W.Va. foster care system in dire need of parents

Mercer-area foster care agencies said the need for parents is dire.
Mercer-area foster care agencies said the need for parents is dire.(WVVA)
Published: Jul. 5, 2022 at 6:50 PM EDT
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BLUEFIELD, W.Va. (WVVA) - In W.Va., nearly 6,000 children were living in foster care as of Tuesday, with just more than half living with a relative while in state custody.

Foster care agencies in Mercer County said the need for foster parents in the state is dire.

“I think it’s just the sheer number of children,” said Melanie Lambert, a Recruiter/Trainer with Braylee and Thompson in Princeton. “Even though we’re bringing new families on-board...there are several where it’s just difficult to find placement for.”

“We are receiving referrals for children needing placement daily,” said Andrea Graham, Site Manager for Children’s Home Society of West Virginia in Princeton. “Mercer County, Raleigh County and all areas of the state...we can not place [them] simply because we don’t have homes to place them in.”

Graham added there were foster children being housed in hotel rooms, as many facilities remained at-capacity.

“With children who are in state custody, it becomes a little bit more complicated because you have to request permission for certain things because the parents still have rights and because the custody of the children is still with the state,” said Lambert.

And as abortion has become illegal in W.Va., workers said there are options for to-be mothers to put a child up for adoption immediately after birth.

“We have birth-parent adoption where families make a profile so somebody who is pregnant can look through those profiles and pick a family that they want to adopt their baby…but we only do a few of those a year throughout the state,” said Graham.

As Graham mentioned however, such situations were few and far between.

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