Del. Ruth Rowan says Child Locator Unit will protect foster children

Staff Writer
Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Del. Ruth Rowan

POINTS – Delegate Ruth Rowan, R-Hampshire, said Friday that the newly created Child Locator Unit within the state Department of Health and Human Resources will be a tremendous asset to help find and protect missing or runaway foster children.

“Creation of the Child Locator Unit is a major step forward in our fight to protect some of West Virginia’s most fragile children,” Delegate Rowan said.

“This unit will assist law enforcement and childcare workers alike as they locate missing and runaway children before they fall victim to human trafficking or other violent crimes.”

The state DHHR announced last week it had formally established the unit, which should be fully operational by January. The unit will assign a child locator to any foster child who goes missing, and that child locator will gather information about the runaway child and work with law enforcement and other partners at the federal, state and local level to find them.

The Child Locator Unit was created as a result of House Bill 4415, which passed during the 2020 regular legislative session. The bill originated in the House of Delegates Committee on Senior, Children and Family Issues, which is chaired by Delegate Rowan.

“I was proud to spearhead this bill during the last session,” said Delegate Rowan, who was lead sponsor of the bill.

“This bill was the product of a wonderful collaboration between a number of experts in this area, including input received during a roundtable meeting with committee members, law enforcement officers, foster care workers, representatives from the state judicial branch, and DHHR Deputy Secretary Jeremiah Samples.

“I’m incredibly happy to see this unit become a reality,” Delegate Rowan said.