WSAZ Investigates: Vetting process for CPS Workers in W.Va.
A West Virginia Child Protective Service worker remains suspended after he was criminally charged in connection to a missing teenager from Lincoln County last week.
The disturbing allegations raise a lot of questions about how seriously CPS employees are vetted in the state.
WSAZ worked for answers to those questions, and they were not easy to get.
Dustin Kinser sits behind bars Wednesday night. He is also suspended from his job as a CPS in Kanawha County.
The West Virginia Department of Health of Human Resources will not tell us how long he has been working with CPS, but sources within multiple agencies tell WSAZ there were red flags prior to last week's incident, including a domestic violence petition filed and granted against Kinser in 2006. The filing is on an abuse registry, which is visible to potential employers.
The questions this case raises are more significant than one man. In their own documents, DHHR calls background checks for applicants looking to care for children "one of the most importance functions."
WSAZ reached out to DHHR Wednesday morning to talk about the vetting process. Four hours later, WSAZ's Jatara McGee was told no one was "available for an interview." Instead, a communications person sent us a link to their criminal background check policy. The policy cites state code, requiring background checks for child caring agencies.
WSAZ asked DHHR what the other ways are that they vet CPS workers. So far, no one has responded to that question.
DHHR's communications team has also not responded to a question about whether applicants for CPS are ever drug tested.
We spoke with a former CPS worker who wanted to stay anonymous. The former employee says during her three years working as a CPS worker, from 2013- 2016, she was never drug tested -- not even during the application process.
WSAZ also found an application for a West Virginia CPS worker online. It clearly reads the state will look into past job-related information, but the application only says it "may include" looking into things criminal records, driving records, abuse registry records, employment history and education and training.
The West Virginia Department of Health of Human Resources is an agency charged with helping children in their most vulnerable states, sometimes showing tough love. Right now, they are refusing to answer tough questions.
WSAZ will keep working for answers.