The Times West Virginian

Opinion

August 23, 2013

Immediate fix, not more study, must occur to protect children

As a society, we need to protect those who are helpless, those who have no power to help themselves.

And in West Virginia, we need to do a better job at it.

In an audit released to state lawmakers earlier this week, workers with Child Protective Services are responding to complaints in a timeframe set by state law less than half the time. The audit found that in 2011, only 48 percent of complaints of abuse and neglect were investigated within the 14-day window, or 72 hours when danger is imminent.

This report comes off he heels of a national study that reported that West Virginia has the highest rate of children dying from abuse or neglect. The report, released by the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, found West Virginia had a death rate at 4.16 children per 100,000 in 2011.

There are a lot of factors that lead to a startling statistic like that, but those in the court system say a rampant drug problem that is sweeping through the state can account for many of the deaths.

The fix isn’t an easy one. According to he audit, CPS, which is under the umbrella of the Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Children and Families, is unable to adequately recruit or retain trained workers who can handle the volume of calls and complaints. For the past six years, the department has studied the issue, but no actions have been taken to correct it.

It’s time to act.

The turnover rate a CPS is 28 percent for employees and 54 percent for trainees. That means that one out of every four social workers and more than half of those training for the position walk away.

Why? The pay is too low and the caseload is too much. They go on to work in other areas of the field with better pay and less demanding expectations.

We know it takes a special kind of person to risk their own life and to walk into the hell some of these children live in and go home each night unscathed emotionally and physically.

When you find that kind of person, you’ve got to keep them. If that means a larger pool of workers and higher wages, so be it.

The death of one child because of delayed response is unforgivable. The fact that so many innocent souls have lose their lives at the hands of the ones they trusted to care for them is inexcusable.

This isn’t a problem that requires more study.

This is a dire situation that needs an immediate fix.

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Opinion
  • Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated

    Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
    During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.

    April 18, 2014

  • Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives

    A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
    Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
    The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.

    April 17, 2014

  • State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary

    Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
    For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
    Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.

    April 16, 2014

  • Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better

    When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
    So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.

    April 13, 2014

  • COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable

    Instant.
    That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
    But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
    Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!

    April 13, 2014

  • Decision to be an organ donor can save lives

    Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
    So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.

    April 11, 2014

  • Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community

    Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
    Marion County is full of volunteers.
    They read to our youth.
    They assist nonprofit agencies.
    They serve on boards and committees.
    And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.

    April 10, 2014

  • Proposed school calendar lives up to letter and spirit of law

    West Virginia state law requires that students be in a classroom for 180 days.

    April 9, 2014

  • Strong Fairmont General Hospital badly needed to serve our region

    Mere minutes often matter when it comes to emergency health care.
    That’s why we need a strong Fairmont General Hospital.
    When patients need the services of health-care professionals, having family and friends close at hand is often essential, and their presence may even lead to a better outcome.

    April 6, 2014

  • COLUMN: Fairmont General Hospital vital part of community

    There’s nothing better than holding a newborn baby. It gives you a little feeling that not only is everything right in the world, but this perfect little human represents hope of a future where things will be better than they are today.
    I had that blessed opportunity to hold that hopeful future in my arms last week when I visited my dear friend Jen and her newborn son Tristan at Fairmont General Hospital.

    April 6, 2014

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