The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau for Children and Families, has set up a Centralized Intake Unit for reports of abuse and neglect throughout the state. All reports will now go through this unit "to provide consistency in evaluation and decision making for Child Protective Services assignments," according to information from the bureau.
The hotline number has not changed: It is still 800-352-6513. However, as of July 1, on nights and weekends, instead of going to your local DHHR district office's after-hours service, the call will be answered by Bureau for Children and Families employees in the centralized unit.
The program is being implemented little by little throughout the state. As of Oct. 1, all callers from Marshall, Wetzel and Tyler counties will be routed to the state center. On Jan. 1, Ohio, Brooke and Hancock counties will be phased in.
The trained supervisors at the central location will screen the calls and then make referrals the appropriate district office as necessary. Then it will be up to the local staff to investigate the report. This takes the burden of fielding initial calls off local staff, allowing them more time to focus on their cases.
State law mandates anyone 18 or over who receives a disclosure or witnesses child sexual abuse to report it to law enforcement or to CPS. If you don't do so within 48 hours, you could be found guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to up to 30 days in jail and up to $1,000 fine.
Mandated reporters of child abuse in West Virginia include:
- medical, dental or mental health
- religious healers
- social services workers
- school teachers and personnel
- child care or foster care workers
- emergency medical services personnel
- law enforcement & circuit court judges
- family court judges or magistrates
- Christian Science practitioners
- youth camp administrators or counselors*
- employees, coaches or volunteers of ANY entity that provides organized activities for children*
- commercial film or photographic print
*Added in 2013