CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services is rolling out a new tiered foster care program designed to train foster families to better care for children.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail ( ) reports that the agency has begun accepting applications from providers for its therapeutic foster care program.

The program will include three tiers that children with severe needs will be placed in. Tier 1 will include families with the same level of training, reimbursement and supports that the agency currently provides. Tiers 2 and 3 will include families with more advanced training to care for children with disabilities or severe behavioral issues.

Linda Watts, deputy commissioner of the West Virginia Bureau for Children and Families, said the program can help match foster homes with the needs of children.

“This is going to allow us to have homes with foster parents who are trained more in-depth to meet those individualized needs,” she said.

The agency has already completed a two-year pilot of the program with youth behavioral health provider Pressley Ridge. Since June 2014, Pressley Ridge has enrolled 34 children in its pilot. Fifteen of those children have been returned to their biological families, returned to an existing adoptive family or have been adopted.

Angie Hamilton, executive director of Pressley Ridge, said the new system will be an improvement over the current foster care system.

Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail,