Mercer judge Swope is keynote speaker at "Pip" kickoff

By The West Virginia Record | Feb 4, 2009

CHARLESTON -– Judge Derek C. Swope of the Ninth Judicial Circuit in Mercer County will be the keynote speaker at the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Children and Families' "PIP Kickoff" Thursday at the Charleston Civic Center.

CHARLESTON -– Judge Derek C. Swope of the Ninth Judicial Circuit in Mercer County will be the keynote speaker at the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Children and Families' "PIP Kickoff" Thursday at the Charleston Civic Center.

The two-day meeting will launch the Bureau's program improvement plan (PIP), a response to concerns identified in the 2008 West Virginia Child and Family Services Review conducted by the federal Administration for Children and Families.

The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia and the Bureau have been collaborating for two years on the second West Virginia Child and Family Services Review (CFSR). The federal review assessed West Virginia's performance in achieving safety, permanency, and well-being for children in the child welfare system. The first CFSR in 2002 resulted in a Bureau program improvement plan (PIP) and statewide collaborative initiatives to improve the child welfare system.

The CFSR onsite review took place in Greenbrier, Harrison, Kanawha, Monroe, Pocahontas, and Summers Counties in September 2008, culminating in a public exit conference that took place Sept. 19.

Several representatives from the West Virginia court system were reviewers, including Judge Swope; Senior Status Circuit Judges L.D. Egnor Jr., and James O. Holliday; and Supreme Court administrative staff.

The results of the onsite review, as well as the Bureau's data and statewide self-assessment report, are being considered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families Children's Bureau (ACF) in determining whether the Bureau was in substantial conformity or needed improvement in achieving federal standards for safety, permanency, and well-being of children in the child welfare system. The written report from the federal Administration for Children and Families has not been released. Performance in the CFSR affects millions of dollars of federal funding for children who receive services or are placed out of their homes by the Bureau.

The two-day meeting of Bureau and judicial system employees in Charleston this week will focus on recapping the areas of concern and strengths noted in the exit conference in September and discussion of collaboration between the judicial system and the Bureau. Work groups targeting the areas of safety, permanency and well-being will work on goals for the two-year PIP plan.

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