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Coalition seeks policy change with foster school children

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A coalition representing several groups has asked West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice to change a policy that doesn’t allow foster parents to decide how children attend school during the coronavirus pandemic.

The WV United Coalition wrote to Justice this week about the policy, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported. The coalition includes the West Virginia Foster, Adoptive & Kinship Parents Network, the NAACP’s Charleston branch and the state chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. the newspaper reported.

“Because the foster family is putting their family at risk, they are the one that should be able to make this decision and, if they need help, they can reach out for it,” said Marissa Sanders, director of the Foster, Adoptive & Kinship Parents Network.

Current policy calls for a multidisciplinary team that includes case workers, foster parents and sometimes biological parents to meet and make the decision, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources said.

“Several families have indicated that if a decision is made that they do not support, they may be forced to request removal of the foster children in their homes and permanently stop fostering,” the coalition wrote.

Health and Human Resources spokeswoman Allison Adler said in emails that “though the foster/kinship parents’ input is vitally important in the decision making process, the other members of the MDT meeting are also necessary in order to make a decision that is in the best interest of child.”