Critical Incident Review Team Would Examine Deadly Incidents for Children in State Custody


When children are entrusted to the state’s care, loved ones should be able to trust that they will be safe. However, that hasn’t always been the case. Lawmakers seek to improve outcomes for these children with a bill currently under consideration by the state Senate.

Senate Bill 474 establishes a Critical Incident Response Review Team under the West Virginia Department of Human Services to oversee and assess circumstances of the “death or near death” of a child in state custody. The Review Team will also examine cases of “death or near death” of youth with an ongoing Child Protective Services case, or in a family served or assessed by the agency during the prior 12 months. 

Lead sponsor Mike Woelfel (D-Cabell) said, “The composition of the Review Team is diverse, which should add to the quality of its assessment of these tragic events. Adoption of a formal, ongoing oversight team will move us toward best practices, is overdue and will save lives. It is important we give the newly created DHS and its administration an opportunity to modernize how at-risk youth are served. The prior DHHR was much too unwieldy and, at times, poorly led. I see a renewed commitment by Dr. Cynthia Persily and her team to assure proper care and supervision of our most vulnerable children.” 

The bill is up for a final vote in the Senate on Wednesday, after which it will proceed to the House of Delegates for consideration by that chamber.


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