Delegate Fleischauer was an early supporter of CASA programs in Monongalia County and statewide. A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a trained citizen appointed by a judge to represent the best interests of a child in court. All children assigned CASA advocates are victims of abuse and neglect, and have been removed from their homes. CASA volunteers research the child’s circumstances, determine relevant facts in a child’s case and provide independent objective information to the court. Unlike a social worker with a heavy case load, a CASA volunteer works with only one child or 2-3 siblings at a time. In an overburdened child welfare system, CASA volunteers make sure that children do not get lost in the system. Delegate Fleischauer’s HB 4649, passed in 2004, made CASA volunteers official members of each county’s multi-disciplinary team, which makes recommendations to the court whether or not a child should be reunified with his or her biological parents, placed in foster care, or be available for adoption with another family.
Through her leadership on the Joint House and Senate Juvenile Task Force, which she chaired in the House for several years, in 2004 Child Advocacy Centers became an official part of the multi-disciplinary investigative teams through passage of HB 4649, which she co-sponsored. CACs provide a child-focused, multidisciplinary response to child abuse. Established to prevent the re-victimization of sexually abused children by the system (some child victims in West Virginia were interviewed over 15 times), multidisciplinary teams aim for one interview with a potential child victim of sexual abuse. The child is interviewed by a forensic specialist. Behind a two-way mirror, representatives of law enforcement, child protective services, prosecution, mental health, medical, and family members may participate in the interview. Delegate Fleischauer helped establish the Monongalia County CAC, which recently celebrated its 10th year of operation.
In 1996, Delegate Fleischauer was a co-sponsor of the first Teen Court bill, HB 4716. Teen Court is a part of a national effort to reduce recidivism among students accused of lower level disciplinary offenses by using local programs which put on a peer trial using peer judging. She later sponsored legislation that helped formalized teen court procedures and devised a revenue source for county teen court programs. For example, she was a sponsor of HB 4561, which passed in its Senate form as SB 725 1998, and was the lead sponsor of HB 4631, which passed in 2000 in its Senate version, SB 388.
Delegate Fleischauer served as House Chair of an interim subcommittee which completely overhauled state statutes relating to adoption. Our Code now makes it easier for adopting parents to obtain a final adoption decision in a shorter period of time. The Code also ensures that the Constitutional rights of birth parents, both fathers and mothers, were properly respected. Delegate Fleischauer was the lead sponsor of the House version (HB 2081); the Senate version passed in 1997 (SB 61).
The Ken Ervin Health Maintenance Act (HB 2731), passed in 2013, allows trained personnel to perform tasks such as tube feedings and ostomy care in people’s homes. It is named after Ken Ervin, an ardent disability activist and Morgantown resident who died unexpectedly in 2007. At the bill signing for HB 2731, the Governor was given a ruby slipper pin as a reminder that for the disabled, just like everyone else, “there’s no place like home.” Delegate Fleischauer originally sponsored the bill to help two young men from North Central West Virginia who need ventilators to survive. They lost Medicaid coverage for nursing care when they turned 21. Their families valiantly tried to provide them with 24-hour care at home.
In 2014, Delegate Fleischauer was the lead sponsor of HB 4287. This bill expanded the health maintenance tasks that could be provided in homes by trained personnel, supervised by licensed health care providers, to include ventilator and respirator patients. Now those families who lost nursing care after age 21 will have access to other trained personnel to assist with health maintenance tasks.
In 2011 (HB 2693) and 2012 (HB 4260), Delegate Fleischauer was the lead sponsor of autism legislation that increased funding and insurance coverage for children with autism spectrum disorder. Six million dollars was added to the state budget to cover increased costs in Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the Public Employees Insurance (PEIA). These programs and most private insurance companies operating in West Virginia are now required to provide coverage for behavioral therapy - up to $30,000 per year for the first three years, and up to $24,000 thereafter. This coverage is available under these insurance plans to children with autism from the date of diagnosis to age 18, so long as a physician certifies that the treatment is medically necessary. With intensive early treatment, most children with autism can become productive members of society. This was a huge heart-warming win for children and families.
Delegate Fleischauer was the lead sponsor of the landmark Domestic Violence Treatment and Prevention Act of 1998, which set up new requirements for continuing education for the many professionals dealing with domestic violence cases. HB 2817 provided new authority for Judges issuing protective orders to require safety plans for victims and battering counseling for perpetrators. Delegate Fleischauer also spearheaded successful efforts over many years to dramatically increase funding for shelters and legal services for domestic violence victims.