By Ammie Ruddle
“Whose job is it to care for children if not everyone’s, this especially includes foster kids,” Anonymous.
Foster care cases are lower in Pendleton than in some counties in the state, however it is not obsolete.
According to staff at the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services, Pendleton County does not have a social worker overseeing foster cases.
Pendleton County is lumped in a district with six other counties, including Tucker, Grant, Mineral, Hampshire and Hardy. Collectively the number of foster care cases that originated in these counties is 207, said Rachael Kinder, director of the framework program.
Frame Works is a program of Mission West Virginia that finds families for children waiting in the foster care system.
Kinder said the requirements for anyone fostering children are the following: they must be at least 18 years or older, with some individual foster care agencies, such as Necco, requiring potential foster parents to be older.
Potential foster parents must have a stable income, but there are no income limitations.
Anyone interested in fostering must have a stable family relationship. “These relationships have nothing to do with marital status — a person can be single, married, divorced, same sex or cohabitating,” Kinder said. “All adults in the household must go through the foster care training.”
Foster parents must be both physically and mentally healthy.
Lastly, potential foster parents cannot have any child or adult substantiated abuse or neglect findings against them — nor can they have any criminal convictions.
“There can’t be any more than six children per home,” Kinder said.
Additional information regarding fostering children includes that children can share a room but they must share a room with a child of the same gender.
Currently, there are 6,597 foster care cases in West Virginia.
Kanawha County has the largest number of foster cases with 819 in the state. Cabell County has 357 foster care cases and Harrison County has 311 cases.
According to information listed on the state foster care online dashboard, Pendleton County currently has zero foster cases originating within its borders.
“These numbers represent the cases that originated in the counties, but may not reflect on the amount of foster care children living in those counties,” Kinder said.
Of the total number of children in the WV foster care system, roughly 15% are less than 1 year old, 16.5% of those children are between 1-4 years of age, 18% are between 5-8 years of age, 16.5 % are between 9-12 years of age, 29% are between 13-17 years of age, and 4% are 18 years and older, according to the state foster care online dashboard.
“At the end of the day, I know that I’ve helped a kid who might otherwise be doing God knows what. I know they are safe and warm, and they have food. It’s one less teenage girl out there,” anonymous foster parent.
Anyone interested in information about fostering children in the state, should contact the Department of Health and Human Resources at 304-558-0628, or contact Mission West Virginia in Hurricane at 304-562-0723.