The Children’s Home Society, located in Fairlea, serves Greenbrier, Monroe and Pocahontas counties, offering training, counseling and adoption.
Regional Director Janet Richmond explained that CHS has served Pocahontas County for more than 20 years now, but has only recently increased its reach into the county with its Foster Care and Adoption Program.
“We’re really making a push to do some recruitment activities in Pocahontas County,” she said. “We do have two homes in Pocahontas County licensed. Foster care and adoption – that’s for kids who are removed from their parents custody usually through CPS issues.”
The need for foster care homes and adoption families is great in West Virginia with thousands of children entering the program.
“Every day in West Virginia there are over 4,000 children who don’t live at home with their family or their parents for various reasons,” Richmond said. “Well over 1,000 of them are available for adoption. Most of our adoptions occur through children who were placed in foster homes through foster care.”
Most children placed in foster care enter homes of parents interested in adopting the child.
“We open our foster homes as foster to adopt,” Richmond said. “That doesn’t mean that every foster home that we open and license, that they want to adopt a child into their family, but a majority of people do foster care so that they can move on to adopt a child.”
Once a family becomes a part of the foster care program, it is assigned a Permanency Social Worker who works closely with the family and child to ensure that everything is going well.
“We provide 24 hour on-call support to them so if there is something that happens at three o’clock in the morning they call us, we respond to that,” Richmond said. “We basically provide what we call case management services so we’re there to support them, to advise them and to make sure that they are operating under the policies because there are certain requirements for every child that comes into care.”
Permanency Social Worker Amanda Thomas works with foster care and adoptive families in Pocahontas County.
“We place children, newborn up to age 18,” she said. “We do offer straight adoptions where the parents relinquish their rights from the hospital. Most of our adoptions start as foster care and then the parents have lost their rights along the process.”
While the number one goal with all children is to return them to their birth parents, sometimes that isn’t what is best for the child.
“We want reunification with the parents as long as it’s going to be safe and in the best interest of the child, but if not, the plan is adoption,” Thomas said.
For families who are looking to adopt in the state, Children’s Home Society offers no fee adoptions.
“If you adopt a child who is a West Virginia resident, we do not charge a fee for that adoption,” Richmond said. “The other thing that folks should know is with those adoptions of a West Virginia child – you have to have an attorney to complete any adoption – there is a stipend that is available through the state for attorney’s fees and most attorneys will accept that stipend in return for their services without charging more than that.”
The children placed in Pocahontas County foster homes are not necessarily from Pocahontas County, but Richmond said it is nice to have a home close by if a child in the county does come into need for a foster home.
“There are children in the community who are in need of a foster home,” she said. “The whole point is, if there is a child in Marlinton, we would rather have a home in Marlinton for that child, especially if they are a school aged child. If their parents rights haven’t been terminated, a lot of times there’s visitations or if they have relationships with other family members. The farther away you get from their hometown, the harder it is to maintain that.”
For more information on the Children’s Home Society, visit www.childhswv.org