West Virginians look after one another and this extends to youth in foster families, too.
That’s why it’s so important to keep a close eye on things as West Virginia transitions its foster care system and foster children across the state fall under a managed care organization.
According to the state Department of Health and Human Resources, this will reduce Medicaid costs while supposedly improving health care quality.
But some child care advocates are concerned that a managed care organization may sacrifice child welfare in favor of the bottom line.
There are 7,000 children in state custody and this transition must be handled with the interest of kids and foster families first, not profit.
That is why a provision that arose out of the 2019 legislative session is so important. The provision calls for the creation of a state foster care ombudsman to the bill for transitioning foster children to managed care.
“It’s another set of eyes to keep the state honest,” said DHHR Deputy Secretary Jeremiah Samples, who led the meeting.
According to state law, the ombudsman will track foster child or foster parent complaints about all aspects of their care. While the legislature mandated no funds for the role, the state Department of Health and Human Resources found money for two positions.
DHHR plans to go back to the Legislature and ask for more funding to hire regional representatives, one for four regions of the state. This funding is needed to look after the interests of children and not profits.
All West Virginians should pay close attention to this effort. We look after one another in this state and we should look after our foster kids and families, too.