CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The list of issues found within Child Protective Services, which provides help to kids who are neglected or abused in West Virginia, is long.

A legislative audit focused on CPS, which is part of the Bureau for Children and Families in the state Department of Health and Human Resources, was detailed at the State Capitol earlier this week during August interims for lawmakers.

The report found a high staff turnover, delays in investigations, shortfalls in recruiting and retaining workers and little willingness to change.

“I was appalled by it,” Senator Donald Cookman (D-Hampshire, 15) said of the audit’s findings.  Before retiring, he spent a lot of time on child neglect and abuses cases as a judge in the 22nd Judicial Circuit comprised of Hampshire, Hardy and Pendleton counties.

“It’s not really flashy and doesn’t attract some people, but it is so important and it takes up the majority of any circuit judge’s time who deals with abuse and neglect.”

At times in recent years, the audit found West Virginia has lead the nation in child deaths tied to abuse.

When cases are reported, those with CPS have 14 days to respond.  That window closes to 72 hours if a child is believed to be in danger.  However, the audit found in 2011 those minimum thresholds were routinely not met across West Virginia.

Cookman said the CPS workers should not shoulder the blame for that.  He said they’re doing one of the most difficult jobs in the state.

“They’re underpaid.  They’re overworked,” he said.  “I can’t imagine going to the places that they go to and trying to work with the families and, then when they have to take the child out of the home, what they have to go through there.”

Susan Hage, the interim commissioner of the Bureau for Children and Families, told lawmakers Wednesday the report is being taken seriously and changes are already being made based on its 14 recommendations.

One of those recommendations deals with the creation of a centralized intake system so cases of abuse and neglect can be better monitored.

The CPS review is a component of a larger review of the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

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  • Kerri

    I've been fighting for 7 years. Spend more time in court rooms and counseling and In home services than I do anywhere else. Wonder how much money they are making off my kids! I'm not a perfect mom but I've never been accused of harming my child. Why are we still in court 7 years later?

  • Kay

    Not to speak of the fact that they kidnap kids from good families!

  • Linda Butch

    There's a very important issue being ignored here. How many of the children's cases of abuse or death happened while they were in the custody of the state while Child Protective services were supposed to be "protecting" them? Simply assuming that the number of deaths occured after Child Services had been notified does not mean the children died due to abuse in their homes.

  • me in huntington wv

    My child was placed with cps then my wrkr put them at a reg sex offendrs res hows that

  • Aaron

    The system is broken. How can CPS be effective when 80% of reports they have to investigate are false allegations made for reasons of revenge or people who report everything because their job mandates it (police, teachers, ect) by penalty of law. An article I read recently said that after reviewing cases where children were removed from homes 60% should have never been removed. Another waste of CPS' and the courts time but what's worse is the undue stress placed upon the children and parents. A 2 week period of stress on small children has been shown to shorten their life span considerably. It's a policy problem. Allow reporters to be sued and/or procecuted in cases where false allegations are obvious and take away the mandate for certain occupations to report. These professionals will still report abuse without the mandate but in a more honest way instead of reporting every dirty house or small thing that COULD be a sign of abuse they see for fear of procecution if they don't report it. These things mentioned above would free up loads of money and time to help the kids who actually need it.

  • cj

    Having worked in CPS in another state for a number of years, I understand many of the problems that come up in investigations. Underpaid, yes. Understaffed, yes. Overworked, yes. Underappreicated, Yes, Yes! We do the best we can. I didn't understand however, that there is a 14 day response time. A lot can happen in 14 days. Having a centralized intake center is a big help to the process but one staff per county won't be enough. It needs to be 24/7 but being centralized means it can be anywhere in the state. Phone calls, faxes, emails, all are ways of getting the information to CPS. (and APS for that matter.) Good luck.

  • DWL

    No!?!?! I’m shocked! Right!

    A liberal program, run by liberal operatives, overseen by even more liberal idiots! It has all the right ingredients to fail – Sorry, work. (LOL) This is a rehash of a known internal issue of a 36 year old problem. Ready - aim – throw more good tax money after bad tax money. Insanity – Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results – defining liberals for a lifetime.


    where's the new state of the art high paid secretary of dhhr in this? She has her hands full as there are many issues facing the agency from poor management in the local offices to the ridiculous policy coming from the top,,,,I believe that the top has little knowledge of even what goes on at the local levels and the field for that matter......

  • steve

    Blame Washington --now how much money are we sending to Irag, Syria, Mexico, Africa, China, Russia etc????????????????

  • Bob

    There are other units such as youth services that are even lower paid, so low that you have to have a second job to be able to care for your family. You have such a high turn around, and lower quality of workers because they live in poverty themselves for the amount of education they have. Raise the pay and increase the standards that supervisors are held to and you will fix these problems.

  • JD

    Wanna hear lack of funding..Most DHHR Workers have only had one raise in the last 3-4 years except the Cabinet Secretary whos salary went up a whopping $90,000.00 within this last year. And no, that is not a typo.

  • charles

    I know a CPS worker.
    When was the last time you went 48+hours,had to use your own car for state work then wait 6 weeks just to get some gas money back? Ever see a DOH worker use his truck? Ever see a State Trooper use his car to go on a call?, They even use state car&gas to drive home (doh&sp).
    CPS is a thankless job they do not get pats on the back like teachers have to have every little bit.
    Most of the cps workers work hard to help kids to get a good home with little thanks.

    no I am not a cps just know one good one

    • Marcus

      Boo Hoo cry me a river!! Your hired to do a JOB, DO IT!! You only know one good one? I know plenty of State Workers that are under paid but you know what they suck it up go to work and do their JOB and do it well!!

  • HW

    Leo....Great Point! I know of a few cases that were referred by a Licensed Social Worker with aparent child abuse (sexual), and both cases were "swept under the rug." The Social Worker even had taped recordings of the incident, and nothing happened. However, I think the name of the family of the perpetrator had more weight than the actual crime itself. It is a shame!

  • Leo

    In our school system we as teachers are mandatory reporters, if we don't report a case of suspected child abuse, we can lose our license and be fired. Maybe these government agencies need to adopt the same standards. I know for a fact that I have made calls that were not dealt with.

  • HW

    I think the news about the audit is to cover up the many complaints that have been filed on CPS over the past several years. By simply reporting the "issues" makes it sound like there is oversight in this agency. Well, there is not. CPS needs a complete overhaul. The department heads need to be removed (most have been in the position over 20 years), and a revamping of the system needs to be initiated. Many CPS case workers allow for personal feelings to outweigh professionalism, for retired workers "control" what current workers are doing, etc. I know of a few cases that were completely child abuse and child neglect, and nothing has happened. I was even told by a case worker that I needed to "overlook" marijuana use in the household as there are "more dangerous drugs that the children could be involved with." Since when do we overlook marijuana? Maybe that was the drug of choice by the caseworker. I have had dealings with several DHHR offices....Marion, Mon, Upsher, Randolph, etc. By far, Randolph has been the worst to deal with......that office needs a complete rennovation, and new employee's need to be hired!!! They are highly unprofessional, and certainly do not perform their duties using the taxpayers monies!!!

    • Worried About The Kids

      Mother investigated for blatant neglect and drug abuse in the home. Strong evidence to prove all even the mother's admission. Mother's family member is a retired cps worker who is buddies with the supervisor in Elkins. CPS worker even notifies mother of date and time of house inspection. The day before the inspection the mother's family member buys food for the house and hires someone to clean it. Because of all this the mother is magically deemed fit and the children are left to suffer. Such a shame. No consideration for what the children will go thru for the rest of their lives.

    • Concerned

      I agree. I have to call CPS in the past for very serious concerns to a local child. 72 hours? They never showed up.

    • susanf

      I would agree w/you, esp. about Randolph Co. With all the drug abuse in the county, child abuse and neglect is rampant. And I have made referrals as well to CPS with no results.