Court Hearings for the Permanent Placement of Children - West Virginia

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Schedule of Hearings

Citation: Ann. Code § 49-4-608

For each child who remains in foster care as a result of a juvenile proceeding or as a result of a child abuse and neglect proceeding, the circuit court, with the assistance of the multidisciplinary treatment team, shall conduct quarterly status reviews. Quarterly status reviews shall commence 3 months after the entry of the placement order.

For each transitioning adult who remains in foster care, the circuit court shall conduct status review hearings once every 3 months until permanency is achieved. For each child or transitioning adult who continues to remain in foster care, the circuit court shall conduct a permanency hearing no later than 12 months after the date the child or transitioning adult is considered to have entered foster care and at least once every 12 months thereafter until permanency is achieved.

A permanency hearing shall be held as follows:

  • Within 12 months of the child's commitment to care and every 12 months thereafter
  • Within 30 days of a finding that reasonable efforts are not required and at least every 3 months thereafter until permanency is achieved

Any party may petition the court for review of the child's case at any time. The court shall grant such petition upon a showing that there is a change in circumstances or needs of the child that warrants court review.

Persons Entitled to Attend Hearings

Citation: Ann. Code § 49-4-608

Before the hearing, notice of the right to be present shall be provided to the following:

  • The child's attorney
  • The child
  • The child's parents
  • The child's guardians
  • The child's foster parents
  • Any preadoptive parent
  • Any relative providing care for the child
  • Any person entitled to notice and the right to be heard
  • Other persons as the court may direct

The child's presence may be waived by the child's attorney at the request of the child or if the child is younger than age 12 and would suffer emotional harm.

Determinations Made at Hearings

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 49-4-110; 49-4-608

At the quarterly status review, the court will determine the following:

  • The safety of the child
  • The continuing necessity for and appropriateness of the placement
  • The extent of compliance with the case plan
  • The extent of progress that has been made toward alleviating or mitigating the causes necessitating placement in foster care
  • A likely date by which the child may be returned to and safety maintained in the home or placed for adoption or legal guardianship

For purposes of permanency planning for transitioning adults, the circuit court shall make factual findings and conclusions of law as to whether the department made reasonable efforts to finalize a permanency plan to prepare a transitioning adult for emancipation or independence or another approved permanency option such as, but not limited to, adoption or legal guardianship.

The purpose of the permanency hearing is the following:

  • To review the child's case
  • To determine whether and under what conditions the child's commitment to the Department of Health and Human Resources shall continue
  • To determine what efforts are necessary to provide the child with a permanent home
  • To determine if the department has made reasonable efforts to finalize the permanency plan

In the case of a child who has reached age 16, the court shall determine the services needed to assist the child to make the transition from foster care to independent living.

At the conclusion of the hearing the court shall, in accordance with the best interests of the child, enter an order containing all the appropriate findings. The court order shall state the following:

  • Whether or not the department made reasonable efforts to preserve the family and to prevent out-of-home placement or that the specific situation made the effort unreasonable
  • Whether or not the department made reasonable efforts to finalize the permanency plan and concurrent plan for the child
  • The appropriateness of the child's current placement, including its distance from the child's home and whether or not it is the least restrictive and most family-like one available
  • The appropriateness of the current educational setting and the proximity to the school in which the child is enrolled at the time of placement
  • The services required to meet the child's needs and achieve permanency

In the case of any child for whom another planned permanent living arrangement is the permanency plan, the court shall do the following:

  • Ask the child about his or her desired permanency outcome
  • Make a judicial determination explaining why, as of the date of the hearing, another planned permanent living arrangement is the best permanency plan for the child
  • Provide in the court order compelling reasons why it continues to not be in the best interests of the child to return home, be placed for adoption, be placed with a legal guardian, or be placed with a fit and willing relative

Permanency Options

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 49-4-608; 49-4-604

Permanency options include the following:

  • Return to the parent
  • Adoption
  • Legal guardianship
  • Permanent placement with a fit and willing relative
  • Another planned permanent living arrangement

In the case of any child for whom another planned permanent living arrangement is the permanency plan, the court shall:

  • Ask the child about his or her desired permanency outcome
  • Make a judicial determination explaining why, as of the date of the hearing, another planned permanent living arrangement is the best permanency plan for the child
  • Provide in the court order compelling reasons why it continues to not be in the best interests of the child to return home, be placed for adoption, be placed with a legal guardian, or be placed with a fit and willing relative

Another planned permanent living arrangement may be utilized only in cases in which the child has reached age 16, and the department has documented to the court a compelling reason for determining that it would not be in the best interests of the child to follow one of the other permanency options.