The Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Resources Accountability met this morning to hear presentations on fatality and mortality review team reports, death records, and the DHHR reorganization.
The fatality and mortality review team is on track to meet the deadline for reports. The medical examiner’s office does have several vacancies for full-time forensic analysts, which causes delays with autopsies performance and death certificate paperwork. Currently, there are 308 autopsy cases pending that are greater than a year old. Of the 308, 46 are unidentified, so 262 cases have families waiting for autopsy completion. It was stated that the facility isn’t adequate for the current number of cases. Currently, the office is staffed with several part-time employees which is the equivalent of six full-time employees. The office is funded for eight positions but would need at least 13 to be adequate.
The Database for Vital Events (DAVE) went active on January 1, 2022. The new system was an overwhelming success with 76 percent of all records being registered electronically. As of 2023, 100 percent of records are registered electronically with 80 being completed within 10 days. West Virginia is tied for fifth in the country with the lowest turnaround for registration. Currently, the average turnaround is 11 days.
The brief updates on the reorganization of the new DHHR departments including an update on the child welfare transformation. The Department of Human Services is working to prevent children from being involved in the child welfare system. To do this, many Bureaus within the department are proactively working together to provide home and community services, family assistance, school mental health programs, wraparound services, medical services, drug control outreach and education, family preservation, and reunification.
The department is working to recruit, hire, train, support, and retain its workforce. To do this, the department is working to reduce caseload size and organizational red tape, in addition to providing resources employees need and better compensation. The department is working with other partners to help its workforce.
Currently, there are 6,186 children in state custody; 58 percent are placed in kinship care within WV, 24 percent are in out-of-state kinship care, and 27 percent are in foster care. In 2021, 1,856 children were adopted with 2,454 waiting for adoption. In Fiscal Year 2023, 1,443 children were adopted with 1,156 still eligible for adoption.
The department is working to enhance children’s lives, support those caring for children, help care workers do their jobs efficiently and safely, help communities support families and children, and prevent abuse and neglect.
The department hopes to have a childcare summit in a couple of months.