In Gov. Jim Justice’s Tuesday coronavirus briefing, Interim Health and Human Resources Secretary Dr. Jeffery Coben offered updated information on several new workforce recruitment initiatives recently put into action. The moves pinpoint the Child Protective Services plight in the Eastern Panhandle.
Coben said three of the previous four offers of Eastern Panhandle employment have been accepted, including two CPS workers and one youth service worker. He said their start dates are this week and they will begin their training immediately.
Coben also said one retired CPS worker accepted a new position and will begin in January. He said the initiative of enticing DHHR retirees to return to work on a limited basis without losing any of their retirement income will continue.
“We’re very excited to have them all join our workforce and to help keep our children safe as it relates to allocating funds for additional workers in the Eastern Panhandle,” Coben said.
Recently, Justice admitted the moves were made, in part, as a response to a publicly shared letter he received from Sen. Charlie Trump, R-Morgan, identifying crisis-level child welfare shortcomings specific to the Eastern Panhandle.
“These are addressing the needs that Sen. Trump brought up,” Justice said. “We have authorized the $2,500 CPS hiring bonus for CPS workers in Morgan, Berkeley and Jefferson counties be moved to $5,000.”
Other DHHR recruitment initiatives recently announced by Coben include reaching out to high school programs, the Mountaineer Challenge Academy, vo-tech programs and WVU health sciences students.
Coben has also said he’s working on plans to acquire additional technology allowing DHHR people to work smarter and more efficiently to manage cases that are in the system, both now and in the future.