By TAYLOR STUCK, The Herald Dispatch of Huntington
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With a complete fiscal note in hand, the West Virginia House of Delegates’ Finance Committee on Wednesday evening quickly passed House Bill 4092, the largest foster care reform bill of the session, sending it to the House floor for passage.
The bill creates a foster, kinship and adoptive parent bill of rights and a foster child bill of rights, among other tweaks to the child welfare code. It also increases the reimbursement paid to foster, kinship and adoptive parents.
The increase was added during the Health Committee’s review of the bill, which then required the bill to be triple referenced, which gave heartburn to some, particularly Democrats. However, the Department of Health and Human Resources was unable to provide more than a quick estimate for how much the increases would cost until Wednesday.
Under the bill, families fostering through DHHR would be paid at least $900 per month per child placed in their home, or about $30 a day — an increase of about $300 per month. Contracted child placement agencies will be paid by the department $75 a day per child in placement, with at least 40% going to the foster family. During the Health Committee meeting in January, Del. Jeff Pack, R-Raleigh, said $75 is the average operating cost for child placement agencies, and he hoped this would allow them to break even and spend their fundraising dollars toward other services for families and children. …