CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – In a unanimous vote Monday the West Virginia House of Delegates passed a measure requiring a court to verify that a parent is successfully fulfilling their treatment obligations before a child removed from a home can be returned to that home.
“We want our parents to get help and get back into rehabilitation but we also want them to be successful on that making sure they are passing their drug tests and attending the counseling and things that are a part of those programs,” says Delegate Andrew Robinson, (D – Kanawha).
Delegate Shawn Hornbuckle, who brought his own son to sit in on Monday’s session, says this bill is just one step in the direction of putting kids first.
“We are cutting out the pretenders. all right there are a lot of folks who probably shouldn’t be in the care of children but also with this bill, we are extending those rights to making sure grandparents and aunts all those types of things will be able to take care,” says Hornbuckle.
Lawmakers tell me that the goal has always been to get a child back with its family, but they say in the midst of the opioid crisis that goal may no longer be right.
A recent example of the problem was the murder of two-month-old Dylan Groves. He was taken from his parents in Scioto County, Ohio because they both suffered from addiction. The infant was later returned – then found weeks later, dead, at the bottom of a well. Both parents were convicted in January.
“And then we see children die as soon as they are back reunited we see children run away as soon as they are back reunited…we also must put the child at the beginning of this forefront. Is it safe for this child to go back home?” says Delegate Danielle Walker (D – Monongalia).
The bill now goes to the Senate where it could become yet another element in the effort to solve West Virginia’s foster care problems.