CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WBOY) — On Tuesday, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) announced a new series of actions designed to help improve Child Protective Services (CPS), Adult Protective Services (APS), and Youth Services (YS) in the state.

According to a press release, the announcement comes from Gov. Jim Justice, along with Dr. Jeffrey H. Coben, who serves as the Interim Cabinet Secretary of the West Virginia DHHR.

“We all know that child welfare has been at the forefront of the issues facing DHHR and we have doubled down on our efforts on recruitment and retention,” Gov. Justice said.

A major part of this plan is to increase the starting salary of employees who work in these departments by 20%. Current employees who fall below the new base salary line will also receive an increase to match.

Additional items listed include:

  • Modifying the current retention bonus to a 10% increase to the base salary for those employees who experience their second- and fourth-year work anniversaries and a 5% increase to the base salary for those employees who experience their sixth- and eighth-year work anniversaries. This retention plan will apply retroactively to current employees to their benefit.
  • Establishing a special hiring rate of $50,000 for CPS workers in Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan counties to be more competitive with the surrounding states.
  • Increasing Youth Services classification to the same pay grade as CPS workers.
  • Creating 27 new full-time positions as paraprofessional staff to support field staff with administrative functions (coordinating travel and paperwork) that can take away time for actual casework.
  • Creating 10 new full-time positions for policy and licensing to support the increase in licensing/policy reviews and investigations at residential treatment providers, both in-state and out-of-state.
  • Purchasing tablets for field staff to access West Virginia People’s Access to Help (WV PATH), DHHR’s online eligibility system, in the field to help families enroll in and apply for services.
  • Installing WiFi in all county offices.

Overall, this plan aims to infuse as much as $10 million into the Protective Service workforce within the first year of its integration.

West Virginia has struggled to fill positions statewide for these services over the past few months. To combat this, Gov. Justice issued an Executive Order on Dec. 14, 2022, that allowed all retired DHHR workers to return to work on a limited basis without drawing from their full retirement.

Despite this, positions statewide have still not been adequately filled. Here are the current numbers as of Dec. 31, 2022:

  • CPS: 518 allocated positions, 160 unfilled – 30.9% vacancy
  • YS: 126 allocated positions, 45 unfilled – 35.7% vacancy
  • APS: 116 allocated positions, 27 unfilled – 23.3% vacancy

“We have struggled for years with growing caseloads and the complex nature of the demands of the CPS, YS and APS systems,” said Cammie Chapman, Deputy Secretary for Children and Adult Services. “I am thankful for Gov. Justice’s focus on meeting the needs of our Department, staff and West Virginians in need of these critical services.”

Anyone who wishes to apply for any of these positions should click here, or attend one of the many job fairs offered throughout the state, a list of which can be found here. Current Bachelor’s or Master’s students in social work may also be eligible for tuition assistance and should email DHHREAP@wv.gov for more information.