The Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) operates in 54 out of 55 counties in the state of West Virginia. Specifically, in the DHHR, the Bureau for Children and Families (BCF) supplies accessible services to children, families, and adults that help them reach their maximum potential and improve their life. Along with the mission, BCF wants all children, families, and adults to be safe, healthy, and supported by their communities (West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, 2020).
Studies show that children who are forcibly removed from their parents suffer significant trauma (Teicher, 2018). Therefore, it is imperative that the WVDHHR begin to look at different ways that families, when possible through services, can stay together. Lack of foster homes, coupled with the highest removal rate in the nation, we are at a critical juncture that is need of change. Reasons for removals as well as a review of the consistency of our model can be useful information in the assessment of where we are and where we need to be. Ethically, it is our responsibility. Ethics are the moral standards in which we are held (Isbell, 2017).
This led to our initiative about child abuse and neglect cases and keeping children safe in their homes. Our team includes a family who has been through child abuse or neglect proceedings, so they can give their unique and personal struggles and service agencies who will be providing services to wrap a family for success. The local family resource network (FRN) will help the department in recognizing gaps in the services and work with providers to fill in those gaps. Educators or the education system and social workers assigned to work with families and children in these situations are also important members of the task force. Previous children who have also been in the system are a key player when talking about how important the services in the home can be or how traumatic removals from family can be. The DHHR initiative must collaborate with community partners and stakeholders so that they fill the gaps in services allowing families to receive in-home, wrap-around care.
Historically, collaborations fail in human services because community members often become frustrated after working together a year (Lasker & Weiss, 2003). They fail to see how their input or voice is being heard and how they play a role in the decisions being made to move forward (Lasker & Weiss, 2003). To be successful, I as the task leader will assure that all members have a voice in the solutions or in the building of the ideas. For example, a youth member on the task force must be treated with respect and their ideas must not be thrown to the side because of their age. On the same thought, service providers, while the ones who may be able to offer the services needed or fill in the gaps, must not be allowed to feel that their ideas are better than others. All members should feel as though they are partners.