WV Bureau  For Behavioral Health & Health Facilities
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The WV Family Support Program - A Division for Developmental Disabilities
photo of a mother with her child
Family Support Home
How The Program Works
A True Partnership
You Can Make A Difference
In the fall of 1989, the Developmental Disabilities Planning Council organized the state's first task force on family support. In response to the national movement away from institutional care, the Council proposed that the WV Department of Health and Human Resources should shift funding to family support efforts. In 1991 the WV Legislature mandated this shift with an initial appropriation of $200,000 to support four regional programs. Today we have 14 behavioral health regions and a budget of over one million dollars.
With the closing of the last of the state's institutions for people with developmental disabilities, residents are returning to their home communities. An estimated 10,000 families statewide care for loved ones with disabilities, and the WV Family Support Program helps as many as funds allow.
The Program provides help with planning for needs and finding resources; help with identifying and applying for appropriate government and community programs; funding for goods, services or home modifications that will help families stay together; and networking and support services.
The average cost per person for institutional care exceeds $100,000. Serving people in the community costs less and better meets the needs of the individuals and their families. Costs vary widely in community settings, and the Family Support program assists families with services that aren't available through other resources.
The Program's average expenditure per family is $1,000. Each child or adult with a disability who lives at home saves the state thousands of dollars each year; family support pays for itself very quickly. And even though the state provides part of the funding, private donations constitute an ever- growing percentage of the budget.

"Terry is 26 and lives with his mother. Recently she had emergency surgery, leaving no one to care for Terry and no money to hire help ---- until their case manager asked the Family Support Program for emergency respite care. Without it, Terry would have gone to a nursing home. This small financial support kept the family together and saved thousands of dollars. "
How the Program Works
The Family Support Program's innovative service delivery model has been adopted by several other states and applauded by national organizations.

The Program Director, the only state employee, oversees the project. Each of the 14 regions has a Family Support Coordinator --- employed by the region's Behavioral Health Center --- who works with the Regional Family Support Council. The majority of Regional Council members are parents, care givers and people with developmental disabilities --- they understand what it means to live with developmental disabilities on a daily basis.

Families fill out a simple application requesting support. The Regional Coordinator meets with each family to develop a long range plan. Together they decide how the Family Support Program can best serve the family.

The Regional Council meets regularly and reviews all applications. They determine how the funds will be distributed to benefit the most families. Often, a Council member can recommend a local resource to reduce the overall cost of a request (volunteer labor, discounts at local businesses, etc.). In this way, the limited funds can be stretched to reach those families most in need.

Foundation funds supplement the Regional Program funds intended for direct services to families. This family-driven system makes the Program responsive and cost-effective.

A True Partnership

This is how government programs should work, in partnership with private organizations and individuals, without a large, cost-intensive bureaucracy.
At least 80% of the state funds go directly to serving families, as do at least 90% of private donations. As the Foundation grows, more families will receive the support they need to foster long-lasting, positive outcomes. The Foundation-Program partnership embodies the "best of all worlds. "The Program has a working system to deliver services and provides the infrastructure to fund and coordinate those services. The Foundation has the flexibility to develop fundraising strategies to augment the state funds.
Together, they make West Virginia's communities better places for all of us to live.
You Can Make a Difference
Please support the Foundation. By building our endowment, you'll be making more services available to West Virginia's families and reducing future demands on taxpayers.
By helping people with disabilities live at home, you'll be making our communities better places to live.
Your help will provide families with equipment and services such as indoor and outdoor wheelchair ramps, wheelchair lifts for vans, specially adapted computers, safe recreational equipment, physical therapy training, and much more.
If you'd like to become a Program volunteer, contact Family Matters, toll-free, at 1-888-WVFAMILY. They will give you the name, address and phone number of the Family Support Program in your community.      For more information on the Program, contact the coordinator, Scott Miller, at 304-558-0627 or by e-mail at smiller@wvdhhr.org. You may also click here for information on how to contact your nearest Family Support Coordinator.

Two-year-old M. lives with his parents and older sister. The family once occupied a rental house with dirt floors and inadequate water and heating. The case management program and the Family Support Program helped provide a used trailer that was insulated and underpinned. The family spent the winter in a safe environment, and remained together and self- sufficient.
A Foundation For The Future
The West Virginia Support Foundation represents a new working relationship between the public and private sectors. In partnership with the State of West Virginia and the West Virginia Family Support Program, the Foundation provides supplemental funding to families who care for members with disabilities at home.

The West Virginia Support Foundation represents a new working relationship between the public and private sectors. In partnership with the State of West Virginia and the West Virginia Family Support Program, the Foundation provides supplemental funding to families who care for members with disabilities at home.

Funds raised by the Foundation go into an endowment. The interest earned by the endowment serves families who would not otherwise find funding through the Program.

The WV Family Support Foundation helps families with members who have developmental disabilities. Young or old, people can make the most of their abilities when they're in a supportive, loving environment. Helping people with disabilities live at home enriches our communities both spiritually and financially, for home care is much less expensive than institutional care.