The Department of Health and Human Resources provides for the care and well-being of children removed from their homes in West Virginia. Children come into the custody of the state from several different avenues. They may be the victims of abuse and/or neglect, have multiple needs that cannot be managed by their families, or enter the system through juvenile justice proceedings.

Out-of-home care or foster care includes a number of different placement and service options, such as emergency shelters, foster family care, specialized or therapeutic foster family care, group or residential treatment facilities, psychiatric hospitalization, placement with relatives, transitional living arrangements, adoption, and detention. The situation and needs of the individual child and his or her family must dictate placement decisions. For children in custody for a brief period, involvement with the Department of Health and Human Resources gives families the time and support necessary to create safe, stable environments so families can be reunited at a later date. For children who cannot return home for a variety of reasons, the Department provides continued custody with permanency plans that reflect the individual needs of each child. For example, while adoption is often appropriate for children whose parental rights have been terminated, plans to return home or placement with a relative may be the appropriate option for children who have significant ties to their biological family. Foster care for children has been evolving for centuries. Since the early 1980s, there has been a dramatic national increase in the number of children placed in foster care including those placed in family foster care, adoptive placements, and residential treatment programs. This increase is often linked to current economic and social problems that further complicate the lives of troubled families and children.

All children who enter foster care are entitled by law to have a safe, permanent living situation that promotes their safety and well-being. Permanency options include family reunification, placement with a relative, adoption, permanent foster care or legal guardianship.

Reunification is the most common goal identified for children in care. When children cannot return home, adoption is often an appropriate permanency plan. For other children with significant families ties and for those who enter foster care through the juvenile justice system, placement with a relative, permanent foster care or legal guardianship are appropriate permanency options. West Virginia is in need of loving homes to care for those less fortunate. Contact your local Department of Health and Human Resources for information on how you can help.