CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WHSV) — The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) announced a new Child Locator Unit within its Bureau for Children and Families, according to a press release from the West Virginia DHHR.
The release says that the unit will consist of three staff members who will receive reports of and locate missing foster youth.
When a foster child is determined to be missing, a child locator will be assigned to gather information about the youth and the events leading up to their runaway. The locators will conduct interviews to understand why the child may have run away.
“Children who enter the foster care system, particularly at age 12 or older, may have endured higher levels of instability, abuse and neglect, factors which heighten the risk of running away,” said Linda Watts, Commissioner of DHHR’s Bureau for Children and Families in the press release. “This unit places a critical focus on runaway foster care youth and will work collaboratively with state and federal partners, as well as the assigned child welfare worker, to ensure a coordinated search and recovery effort.”
Officials say that the unit is expected to be fully operational by Jan. 2021.
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