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West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice took to Twitter to encourage residents to adopt foster children.
On Nov. 9, Justice tweeted, "November is #NationalAdoptionMonth! As of September 2018, there are 6,683 WV children in foster care — 1,415 of whom are legally eligible for adoption. To learn more about adoption or becoming a foster parent, contact Mission WV at 866-CALL-MWV (225-5698)."
We took a closer look at the underlying data and found a small discrepancy.
The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Children and Families keeps records on this question, including a monthly legislative report.
According to the October 2018 report, which includes numbers through the end of September 2018, there were 6,683 children in the West Virginia foster care system. However, a slightly smaller number of these children -- 6,289 -- are listed as "WV children." The remaining 394 are out-of-state children who happen to be in the West Virginia system.
We asked the agency why there are "out-of-state" children in the system. They said these children are legal residents of West Virginia who have been relocated out-of-state, such as living with a relative. Despite currently living out-of-state, these children remain eligible to receive care through West Virginia’s system.
The same in-state vs. out-of-state distinction holds for the second part of Justice’s assertion -- the number of foster children who are eligible to be legally adopted.
What qualifies a child in foster care to be "legally eligible for adoption"? To be adopted, their parents must have their parental rights terminated.
A spokeswoman for the agency, Allison Adler, told PolitiFact West Virginia that the children in the "relatives/kinship" category in the following chart are the only ones legally eligible for adoption.
That means that 1,415 children in the system overall are eligible for adoption, but are legally eligible for adoption, but of those, only 1,392 are "WV children."
Justice’s office did not respond to an inquiry for this article.
Justice tweeted, "As of September 2018, there are 6,683 WV children in foster care — 1,415 of whom are legally eligible for adoption."
Justice isn’t far off with his numbers, but he lumps in a modest number of out-of-state children with "WV children" for both numerical categories he cited. We rate the statement Mostly True.
Jim Justice, tweet, Nov. 9, 2018
West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, "Foster Care Placements Report," October 2018
West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Legislative Foster Care Reports index page, accessed Jan. 8, 2019
Email interview with Allison C. Adler, director of communications for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Jan. 8, 2019
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