No shelter: West Virginia’s foster care crisis

About this series

Nearly 10,500 children spend time in the West Virginia foster care system every year, a number that has continued to grow in the last decade as more parents succumb to drug abuse and kids are placed in protective care. But the state is not prepared to take care of these children.

An investigation by Mountain State Spotlight and GroundTruth found that West Virginia is over-relying on out-of-state facilities to manage the number of cases, which are sparsely monitored, leading to the abuse and neglect of many of the children sent hundreds of miles away from the state.

The problem is compounded by the lack of foster parents in the state, a lack of Child Protective Service workers and the collapse of initiatives that were designed to intervene before kids end up in foster care.

Investigated by Report for America corps member Amelia Ferrell Knisely and GroundTruth fellow Molly Born, the series was produced in collaboration with Mountain State Spotlight, a nonprofit news organization that aims to hold the powerful accountable and tell the stories of West Virginians and the issues facing their communities. The civic news website is led by award-winning reporter and MacArthur fellow Ken Ward Jr. and Greg Moore, former executive editor of the Charleston Gazette-Mail.