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Thursday, May 26, 2022

West Virginia Legislature Blog

Interim Report: Joint Committee on Children & Families

The Joint Committee on Children and Families met today during Interim Meetings.

The focus of the meeting was disabilities services in West Virginia. The WV Developmental Disabilities Council expressed concerns with guardianship. They stated that guardianship doesn’t always serve the purpose its intended. It is supposed to protect the individual, but sometimes it can do the opposite. The council favors limited guardianship and supported decision making more. The focus should be helping the individual do anything other citizens can do. Most importantly earning a living wage. The Council also expressed concerns over congregate living settings because it isolates disabled individuals. Disabled children need to be around nondisabled peers to help with learning and development.

The executive director of Disability Rights of WV explained what the agency does. It helps disabled people in numerous ways including informational referral and advocacy. Psychiatric therapy can be provided with the agency. Individuals seek the help of the agency when their legal or human rights have been violated. A major issue includes direct care workers.

A representative from the WV Autism Training Center at Marshall explained what the center does. The agency was founded in 1984 because support and services were needed. In the 1990s, the US saw an explosion of autism diagnoses. In the mid-1990s, 1 in 250 individuals had autism. Now, 1 in 44 have autism. The center provides general autism training, behavior problem training, parent training, autism mentor training, technical assistance, law enforcement training, and a college program for children on the spectrum.

Goodwill Industries provided a video of an individual who has seen success with their agency. Goodwill Industries works with various agencies in the state including DHHR and DRS to help individuals develop soft skills and obtain employment. The agency finds environments for each individual to thrive in. The agency has a program called “Wheels to Work,” which provides bus passes in cities. Additionally, after 90 days, the agency will help individuals begin the process of purchasing a car. Goodwill Industries serves 20 counties.

An individual from Think Kids provided an explanation of the goals of their program. The goals are to raise awareness, assess challenges, initiate a public dialogue then compile and share recommendations. The most important need for this agency is a centralized website to provide parents with knowledge of the resources available to them.

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