DHHR lapses tarnish CPS workers in WV

Child Protective Services workers in West Virginia are the knights in shining armor who ride to the rescue of hundreds of children every year. They do not deserve the tarnish on them created by lapses at the state Department of Health and Human Resources.

Neither do Mountain State residents deserve having to wonder whether the DHHR has opened the door to really rotten apples to become CPS workers.

An examination of the CPS program by legislative auditors has revealed multiple concerns about the agency. Among them is the stunner that the DHHR is not conducting background checks on CPS workers, despite a policy requiring it to do so.

Legislative auditors noted the policy requires criminal background checks within 60 days of someone being hired by the DHHR. It also mandates checks every five years after that. But the DHHR was unable to provide evidence it is complying with the policy.

Let us be perfectly clear on the matter: West Virginians entrust CPS workers with the most critical responsibility most of us can conceive, that of getting our precious children out of dangerous situations. We have heard no reports of CPS workers themselves being threats to youngsters. To the contrary, there can be no reasonable doubt that the protective services men and women have saved the lives of many children.

Yet the DHHR error inevitably will mean some will be viewed with suspicion. Some of their actions will be second-guessed. Again, the CPS workers do not deserve that.

But, knowing what we do about evildoers who hide in plain sight, seizing any opportunity presented to harm children, such doubts about the CPS are understandable.

They need to be eliminated right now — in a period of a few weeks, not months. Lawmakers should call DHHR officials on the carpet and demand that by the time the Legislature convenes its annual 60-day session in January, documented background checks have been conducted on all CPS workers.

No “ifs, ands or buts.” Just do it.


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