Special Efforts Being Made in West Virginia to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities

West Virginia is one of eight states participating in the Three Branch Institute’s technical assistance effort on child safety and strategies to eliminate child fatalities due to abuse and neglect. The Three Branch Institute was founded in 2009 as a partnership among the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, Casey Family Programs, the National Center for State Courts and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. They will provide assistance to states in developing child fatality prevention plans that will be implemented by December 2017.  [Recommendation 5.2b]

In response to a 2013 report, and a follow-up report released in 2015, the state has been making changes to its child protection system, including increased training requirements for caseworkers, scheduling changes aimed at reducing the amount of overtime needed by caseworkers, and piloting an online form for mandatory reporters to document abuse and neglect reports.  [Recommendations 5.3, 7.2e, 7.3]

In February 2016, BCF completed its first annual critical incident report, entitled, “Report on Child Fatalities and Near Fatalities Due to Abuse or Neglect in West Virginia.”  As a result of findings from this report, the state has mandated that if a report alleges substance abuse by the parents or a caregiver, the report must be accepted and assigned for immediate assessment. It also has expanded education efforts about safe sleep and preventing shaken baby syndrome.    [Recommendations 6.2, 7.1]