Children who are the victims of abuse and neglect in our state often end up in the foster care system and rely on a variety of agencies and offices.
Those involved met in Bridgeport on Monday.
‘From Impossible, to I'm Possible’ was the theme of this year's West Virginia Court Improvement Program conference.
It's held annually to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect, and inform everyone involved in the process so they can do their jobs better.
"We have our conferences every year to try to educate everyone involved in the child abuse and neglect system about the process, about exciting new findings and understanding so we can make sure everyone is prepared to do their jobs,” explained Nikki Tennis, the Director of Child Services for the Supreme Court Administrative Office.
Attorneys, social workers, foster parents and more professionals filled the Bridgeport Conference Center for different sessions.
Those sessions included ‘Filing the Child Abuse and Neglect Petition’ and ‘the Child Abuse and Neglect Case.’
"We try to have something for everyone whether they just started in the system or if they are seasoned veterans of the system. We want them to have the basic track so they can learn the basics of child abuse and neglect law and also all of the essentials for young adults,” Tennis said.
Tennis said one of the most interesting sessions featured young adults who made their way through the foster care system.
Samantha Sixma was in the foster care system and is now a registered social worker, she served on a youth panel to discuss both ends of the spectrum.
"I did go through the foster care system and now I'm working as a social worker with kids who have aged out of foster care. We were talking about our experiences in foster care and where we are now and really encouraging the workers and lawyers and everybody who was attending to continue what they are doing because it is so important,” explained Sixma.
Sixma told her story, and answered questions from the audience about the system.
She said it was important to share her experience with foster care.
"I had a fabulous social worker and she is the reason I became a social worker, I had fabulous lawyers, and a fabulous judge. I was here because I think it's important for people to hear the story from the people who have been through it,” Sixma said.
The conference will continue on Tuesday. It will then continue in Charleston July 10 and 11.
For more information on the West Virginia Court Improvement Program click here.