Foster care bill passes West Virginia senate overwhelmingly despite concerns

The bill provides protections for parents to ensure they don’t lose parental rights while participating in a substance abuse treatment program. It sets timelines for foster care certifications and limits the number of out-of-state foster care placements.

The issue causing the most concern for lawmakers is a provision allowing the state Department of Health and Human Resources to contract with a managed care organization to oversee health care and social services for foster children.

According to the department, more than 85 percent of all foster care cases involve substance abuse. In January 2018, the number of foster children was 6,497. That number went up to 6,743 by the end of December 2018.

The state already contracts with other managed care organizations for pediatric health care needs. Health and Human Resources is accepting bids for managed care, though HB 2010 would codify the program estimated to cost $225 million in its first year. The department also is still accepting comments. The bill requires stringent reporting requirements.

“The intent of this bill is to help the foster care system in West Virginia,” said Senate Health and Human Resources Committee Chairman Mike Maroney, R-Marshall. “It’s my opinion this is a good first step.”

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