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The State Personnel Board on Thursday unanimously approved pay raises for certain West Virginia Bureau of Social Services employees.

About 970 employees within the Department of Health and Human Resources will receive 15% base rate salary increases beginning June 18.

Employees who work in the following positions will see the raises:

  • Adult Protective Service worker trainees.
  • Adult Protective Service workers.
  • Adult Protective Service supervisors.
  • Child Protective Service case coordinators.
  • Child Protective Service worker trainees.
  • Child Protective Service workers.
  • Child Protective Service worker seniors.
  • Child Protective Service supervisors.
  • Health and Human Services aides (limited to certain areas).
  • Social Service workers Class 2 (limited to certain areas).
  • Social Service workers Class 3 (limited to certain areas).

Wendy Mays, assistant director for classification and compensation within the Division of Personnel, said the Bureau of Social Services has a current vacancy rate of 20.8%, and a turnover rate of 25.3% in the past year in these positions. The health agency’s leadership told the Division of Personnel the pay bumps will begin to address recruitment and retention issues for employees who work directly with the foster care and adult services systems.

“There is a pretty hefty vacancy rate in these classifications,” Mays said. “So this is a very hefty proposal that will affect a lot of employees and, hopefully, assist in retaining them.”

The current minimum salary for Child Protective Services workers is $32,722, according to the Division of Personnel’s website. A 15% increase would up that amount to $37,630. The current minimum salary for Adult Protective Services workers is $31,146. A 15% increase would up that amount to $35,818.

The five-person board also approved the Department of Health and Human Resources’ request to pay these employees above the agency’s maximum compensation range.

The 15% figure comes from the only foster care bill that was seriously considered this past legislative session. After the bill passed 99-1 in the House of Delegates, Senate Finance Chairman Eric Tarr, R-Putnam, removed this provision from the bill, along with the proposed public information component and centralized abuse and neglect report intake system, with just three days left in the session.

After Tarr removed the pay raise provision, Gov. Jim Justice told DHHR Secretary Bill Crouch he could instead fund the raises by eliminating vacant positions within the agency and directing that money toward Bureau of Social Services employees. Justice announced last week that his office and the agency located enough existing funding to pay for these approximately 970 raises.

The scaled-back foster care bill died just steps from passage on the final day of the session, as the Senate did not leave the House of Delegates enough time to concur with their changes to the bill before both chambers adjourned sine die.

Also Wednesday, the State Personnel Board approved the DHHR’s request to extend the probationary period for the child support specialist training position from six months to one year. An employee in this position works in the state’s Bureau for Child Support Enforcement.

“The agency feels that the probationary period is not enough to evaluate the performance of the employees, as well as it requires a one-year period to obtain the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities for the positions in this classification,” said Dori Sunderland, human resources manager for classification and compensation within the Division of Personnel.

“[The agency is] also finding [that], after six months, new employees are still dependent on the tenured employees to complete job duties, and find that a 12-month probationary period will be more suitable to evaluate the employees for permanent employment,” Sunderland said.

A recent report said that 6,619 children are under the care of the West Virginia foster care system, according to the DHHR.

Joe Severino covers politics. He can be reached at 304-348-4814 or joe.severino@hdmediallc.com. Follow @jj_severino on Twitter.

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