By April 6, 2018 Read More →

EDITORIAL: Child services — Legislature needs to look at protections

The Inter-Mountain editorial

Just a few days ago, West Virginia’s Department of Health and Human Resources announced it has hired 48 new Child Protective Services personnel. They are needed to deal with a disturbing increase in child abuse and neglect.

Perhaps the CPS workers need some protection, too.

A Nicholas County man has been charged with making a terroristic threat in comments he allegedly made to DHHR employees. George L. Barnes, 28, is accused of vowing to “shoot and kill” people at the DHHR office in Nicholas County.

Barnes is involved in a child abuse and neglect case being investigated by CPS.

CPS workers’ jobs do not endear them to the parents and guardians they accuse of neglecting and/or abusing children, needless to say. Threats and occasional violence against the DHHR employees are considered serious enough that they have special protections under state law.

Add to the normal tension involved in CPS cases the fact that a high percentage of abuse and neglect situations — perhaps as many as five of every six — involve illicit drugs and the peril is clear.

We applaud the DHHR action in augmenting the CPS staff. Now, agency officials and, if necessary, the Legislature should consider whether those who protect Mountain State children need more protection themselves.

•••

Money, money everywhere — but not a dollar to spend.

That has been the essence of a complaint by officials in White Sulphur Springs, one of several West Virginia communities devastated by flash flooding less than two years ago.

Officials in the town have scrambled to find money for the rebuilding process. Their challenge was increased by the fact that though a $1 million fund was established in the 1980s to deal with flood recovery, White Sulphur Springs officials could not use the money.

The fund was established through a real estate deal with CSX Corp. But state law permitted the town to use only interest earned on the $1 million. The principal had to remain untouched, regardless of the need for it.

Finally, that has changed. A state law enacted this year removed the restriction.

As the measure’s sponsor, state Sen. Stephen Baldwin, D-Greenbrier, noted, some lawmakers were surprised the bill was necessary. “It was just weird to me in the first place that we’d even have to do it,” he added.

Indeed. Why, one wonders, did it take so long after the 2016 floods?

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