Determining the Best Interests of the Child - West Virginia

Date: September 2023

Guiding Principles

Citation: Off. of Children & Adult Serv., Foster Care Pol., § 1.2

Safety is the paramount concern that must guide all child welfare services. When making decisions about a child, including those decisions regarding service provision, placement, and permanency planning, the safety of the child must be the foremost issue in determining what is in the best interests of the child.

Best Interests Factors

Citation: Ann. Code § 49-1-105

It is the purpose of this chapter to provide a system of coordinated child welfare and juvenile justice services for the children of this State. The State has a duty to ensure that proper and appropriate care is given and maintained.

The child welfare and juvenile justice system shall do the following:

  • Ensure each that each child is provided care, safety, and guidance
  • Serve the mental and physical welfare of the child
  • Preserve and strengthen the child's family ties 
  • Recognize the fundamental rights of children and parents
  • Develop and establish procedures and programs that are family-focused rather than focused on specific family members, except where the best interests of the child or the safety of the community are at risk
  • Involve the child and the child's family or the child's caregiver in the planning and delivery of programs and services
  • Provide community-based services in the least restrictive settings that are consistent with the needs and potentials of the child and their family
  • Provide for early identification of the problems of children and their families, and respond appropriately to prevent abuse and neglect or delinquency

Other Considerations

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.