BUCKHANNON — The number of children who need forever homes in West Virginia has reached epidemic proportions, the executive director of the Upshur County Family Resource Network told the Upshur County Commission Thursday.
Lori Ulderich Harvey said the number of children who currently need either a foster or adoptive home in the Mountain State is “quite staggering,” and stems, in part, from the opioid epidemic affecting the state and nation.
“Right now, CPS (Child Protective Services) is overloaded to the point with children in foster care that we may have children that don’t have heat in their home or may not have food in their homes,” Harvey told the commission at its weekly meeting. “CPS is to the point of mass capacity and crisis level… they’re looking at which children’s lives they can save – that’s how bad it’s getting right now. The 2017 number I have has increased drastically … and it affects these children physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and it’s not just going to be for a temporary period of time. It’s going to be for the rest of their lives.”
Harvey attended the meeting to request that commissioners Troy “Buddy” Brady, Sam Nolte and president Terry Cutright, declare November 2017 National Adoption Month in Upshur County. She said that in 2015, there were 4,857 child maltreatment cases, 4,959 children in foster care placements and just 893 adoptions. The number of kids removed from their biological homes due to abuse, neglect or abandonment had surged to 5,040 by January 2017 and is rapidly climbing, she said.
Following the commission’s unanimous approval of the National Adoption Month proclamation, Harvey urged anyone interested adopting or fostering a child to contact her. Homes are most needed for children over age 8, who aren’t adopted at the same rate as younger children, Harvey said.
“If anyone is interested in fostering or adopting, I can give you lots of information, and I can help you along the way,” Harvey said. “It’s something near and dear to my heart.”
Harvey can be reached at 304-473-1051 or at [email protected]
The commissioners also approved a proclamation declaring Nov. 16 the Great American Smokeout and encouraging Upshur County residents who smoke or use smokeless tobacco to quit – even for just a single day. Harvey, who is also chair of the Upshur County Tobacco Prevention Coalition, and Tim Higgins, a UCTPC member, presented the proclamation.
Higgins took the opportunity to commend the Upshur County Health Department’s board of directors on their recent approval of an expanded Upshur County Indoor Clean Air Act.
“It was passed unanimously with no discussion,” said Higgins, who is also a board member of the West Virginia chapter of the American Lung Association. “The bold move by the board of health to improve the health of all citizens of this county along with the workers and patrons to the establishments affected by this is greatly appreciated by the American Lung Association. I know that there were some disgruntled people at the meeting, but I’m trying to keep it positive. If those people decide to put a positive spin on that and embrace those changes … they will see their business improve.”
The expanded act bans smoking in bingo halls, motel-hotels, retail outlets that sell tobacco and all areas of fire halls and fraternal organizations, including private assembly halls. People who spoke against the expanded ban at the Nov. 2 meeting said certain organizations were private clubs, and as such, should be free to allow smoking in areas not open to the public.
In other news, the commission:
-Approved a proclamation declaring November Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. The third leading cause of cancer death in the United States, only 9 percent of those diagnosed with the disease survive beyond five years. Thursday, Nov. 16 is World Pancreatic Cancer Day, and Upshur County residents are encouraged to wear purple to raise awareness about the dangers of the disease.
-Approved the reappointment of Richard H. Ralston II to the Upshur County Building Commission. Ralston’s term will expire Nov. 10, 2022.
-Approved renewal of a one-year service contract with Everbridge in the amount of $3,090. Everbridge provides the limited capacity free notification system referred to as nixle 360. The contract period is from Nov. 23, 2017 through Nov. 22, 2018.
-Approved Lewis-Upshur Animal Control Facility volunteers Karen T. Sanford, Derek Nickleson and Maggie Nickleson.
-Received correspondence from Brian Wright, an Atlantic Coast Pipeline representative, announcing the receipt of a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to construct, operate and maintain the ACP.