Federal lawsuit targets West Virginia foster care system

West Virginia

FILE – In this July 8, 2019, file photo, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice speaks at a roundtable on the opioid epidemic at Cabell-Huntington Health Center in Huntington, W.Va. A federal lawsuit accuses Justice and others of failing to protect children in West Virginia’s overwhelmed foster care system. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A federal class-action lawsuit alleges the overwhelmed foster care system in opioid-ravaged West Virginia has failed to protect children.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court by nonprofit advocacy groups and a law firm on behalf of a dozen children against Gov. Jim Justice, the state Department of Health and Human Resources and other state officials.

The 105-page complaint describes stories of alleged neglect and harm done to foster children while under the DHHR’s care. Many were in inadequate and dangerous placements, left without necessary services or forced to languish in foster care for years.

The DHHR’s foster care ranks have swelled to about 6,900 children as the state grapples with the opioid addiction epidemic.

The DHHR and governor’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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