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Justice announces extra raises for social services workers, dashboard for child welfare

Gov. Jim Justice announced today that his administration has identified funding for 15 percent raises for social services workers.

The Department of Health and Human Resources said 970 workers will be eligible for the raises.

“That is done now. These people really, really, really work hard,” Justice said.

Legislators had considered a bill including those raises as an incentive to retain child protective services and adult protective services. Justice’s administration countered that the raises could be provided without legislation by using money from hundreds of unfilled positions to pay for the raises.

“And how we’ve done it is just minding the store. How have you done this? How have you done this Justice? Did you have to go into this coffer and this coffer and pull a whole bunch of money out? No. We didn’t have to pull a dime out. Not one dime out,” Justice said during a briefing today.

“And what we did is, we had vacancies. And as those vacancies were never filled and they’d been there vacant — and if we ever get people applying and all that, we’ll revisit — but right now all we had to do was mind the store the right way and be able to compensate these people more that are doing unbelievable work.”

Bill Crouch, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources, said the governor continued pushing for the pay raises for social services workers.

“He was adamant that this get done,” Crouch said. “He was the one who made sure this happened and stayed on me to make this happen.”

He acknowledged that the money came from positions that had been vacant.

“We did take existing positions in DHHR. We swept those. We will removed those,” he said. “We’ve had to do some juggling to get this done, but the governor was adamant that we do it.”

That same bill, which didn’t wind up passing, had also included a dashboard intended to provide helpful information about West Virginia’s foster care system. Today, the Justice administration said a version of that dashboard is moving forward and should be in place by June 1.

Justice said the dashboard will display child protective services placements, referrals and staffing information.

Bill Crouch

“This will be a living dashboard, much like the dashboard for covid. When we see the need to make changes, we’ll make changes. When we see the need to make changes we’ll make changes. We’ll keep that information updated on a monthly basis, and we’ll try to make it better as we go along,” Crouch said.

“But it’s a way for folks to see what’s going on in the state with regard to our CPS program and making sure we keep children safe.”

Crouch elaborated that the agency does not want the dashboard to violate confidentiality in cases that can often be very sensitive. “We have to be very careful in terms of making sure all of our children are protected from the standpoint of confidentiality,” he said.

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