Amelia Ferrell Knisely

Amelia Ferrell Knisely

Amelia is an investigative reporter for West Virginia Watch. Her coverage regularly focuses on poverty, child welfare, social services and government.

Rep. Carol Miller (R-WV) looks up while a light reflects on her black framed glasses.

Republicans Miller, Morrisey push back on proposed federal protections for LGBTQ foster kids

By: - December 1, 2023

West Virginia Republicans have spoken out against a proposed rule change for how child welfare agencies must manage the cases of LGBTQ children, which could include required access to gender affirming care.  On Thursday, Congresswoman Carol Miller, R-W.Va., joined dozens of other Republicans in Washington, D.C., to introduce the bill that would protect faith-based child […]

Truist Tower sits next to One Davis Square, with trees and other plants out front.

Attorneys suing state over foster care say DHHR ‘deliberate’ in deleted email scandal 

By: - November 29, 2023

Attorneys who sued the state over its treatment of foster children will continue to pursue sanctions against the state health department over deleted emails. The evidence could have shown the realities of the state’s overwhelmed child welfare system.  Plaintiffs attorneys sought the emails as part of an ongoing class-action lawsuit against the West Virginia Department […]

Second lawmaker calls for investigation into DHHR’s handling of Sissonville abuse, neglect case 

By: - November 28, 2023

Del. Mike Pushkin, lawmaker and chair of the state Democratic Party, called on the governor to launch “an immediate and thorough” investigation into how the state handled a child welfare case where two children were found living in a shed. A Republican lawmaker already made a similar appeal for additional scrutiny.  Public records, obtained by […]

State says no docs exist showing CPS responded to calls about Sissonville kids found locked in shed

By: - November 28, 2023

Newly obtained documents show child protective services workers were told in August to promptly check on the children in Sissonville who were found last month living in a shed without access to running water or a toilet. However, the state health department doesn’t have travel documentation showing that CPS workers made contact with the children […]

Charter school offering free nursing courses for high school students up and running

By: - November 23, 2023

A new charter school in West Virginia gives students the opportunity to jump-start a degree in nursing before they graduate from high school, saving them thousands of dollars in college tuition costs. Win Academy, the state’s first charter school housed within a community college, is an accelerated degree program that allows juniors and seniors to […]

Truist Tower sits next to One Davis Square, with trees and other plants out front.

DHHR leaders say they’ll change staff vetting after multiple contract employees arrested

By: - November 17, 2023

Leaders with the state health department said they’ll “conduct an internal review” and change their staff vetting process at William R. Sharpe, Jr., Hospital, which serves patients with disabilities, some of whom are nonverbal.  The announcement in a press release came hours after West Virginia Watch published a story revealing that multiple Sharpe staff members […]

Multiple employees at a state-run hospital have been charged with crimes this year

By: - November 15, 2023

Standing before lawmakers, the state’s new secretary of health facilities fielded a question about the latest employee issue at William R. Sharpe Jr., Hospital: a nurse had been arrested last week and charged with murder for an incident that didn’t occur at the facility.  “Sharpe seems to be in the news all the time,” Secretary […]

A white marker board in a classroom has a schedule written on it that blurs as it gets farther away.

‘A massive problem’: School districts misspent millions in COVID-19 relief money, audit shows

By: - November 13, 2023

The state department of education failed to adequately monitor school districts’ use of millions of dollars in federal pandemic relief funds, and more misuse of the money is likely to emerge as spending reviews continue.   A state audit, which reviewed only a sample of purchases made since 2020, found that the West Virginia Department of […]

DHHR faces Jan. 1 deadline to split into 3 new departments, address vacancy issues

By: - November 13, 2023

State health department leaders, tasked with splitting the behemoth department by the start of the new year, are working to fill vacancies while also eliminating unnecessary positions.  State lawmakers earlier this year mandated that the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources split into three agencies in an effort to improve department outcomes and […]

CPS investigating 68% of child abuse and neglect referrals in required timeframe, DHHR leader says

By: - November 12, 2023

Child protective services workers are responding to around 68% of abuse and neglect referrals in the required timeframe, according to state health department leaders, revealing some children may remain in dangerous situations. The rate marks an improvement for the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources after a 2018 state audit found the state’s […]

Settlement in jail lawsuit would pay some inmates who lived in alleged ‘inhumane conditions’

By: and - November 9, 2023

Current and former inmates at Southern Regional Jail could receive $4 million under a proposed settlement that would tie up a lawsuit over inhumane conditions at the facility. The proposed agreement was laid out before a federal judge on Thursday in Beckley, West Virginia. The class-action lawsuit, filed in 2022, said that inmates were denied […]

An elementary school classroom with multicolor reading charts on the blue wall on the left side, with activity books laying on a long table below it.

After years of shortcomings, state declares emergency in Hampshire County Schools special education

By: - November 8, 2023

The West Virginia Board of Education declared a state of emergency in Hampshire County Schools special education program after nearly three years of shortcomings for vulnerable students. The board’s decision, issued on Wednesday during their monthly meeting, requires the school district to address issues, including missing services, staffing and a lacking graduation rate for students […]