(05/30/2002)
The most rural and poor counties in West Virginia may get short-changed in a state program that delivers direct services to families that have experienced abuse and neglect of children.

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human services, experiencing financial strain, cut payments to seven different agencies that provide direct services. The cut will affect the "family preservation" program, which sent social workers into troubled families to provide resolution and keep the children out of official state custody.

The program was aimed at keeping families together, protecting children and not placing kids in foster homes or shelters.

The movement with the service is toward using competitive fee-for-service agencies, which generally would not be interested in rural counties. Several of the long time agencies providing services have been cut, like Youth Services System in Wheeling and the United Methodist Burlington Family Service.


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