CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - With West Virginia recently ranking fifth nationwide for substantiated cases of child abuse or neglect, some lawmakers plan to pursue a new watchdog agency.
Draft legislation endorsed Monday by a joint interim committee would create an independent office of child advocacy.
The office would monitor the state's handling of abuse, neglect and related cases, with the power to intervene when necessary.
It is modeled on a Rhode Island program backed by the American Bar Association. Several states have adopted that model, including Georgia. West Virginia lawmakers may draw from that example as well.
The bill would debut during the 2010 session in January. The Legislature is also weighing ways to strengthen the state's existing child protection agency.
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