Reasonable Efforts to Preserve or Reunify Families and Achieve Permanency for Children - Virginia

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What Are Reasonable Efforts

Citation: Ann. Code § 16.1-281

Reasonable efforts include programs, care, services, and other support that will be offered to the child and his or her parents that will lead to the return of the child to his or her parents within the shortest practicable time.

When Reasonable Efforts Are Required

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 16.1-278.4; 16.1-282.1(E)

Reasonable efforts must be made to prevent removal of the child from his or her home, unless continued placement in the home would be contrary to the welfare of the child.

If the child has been removed from the home, reasonable efforts must be made, as follows:

  • To reunite the child with the child's family, if returning home is the permanent goal for the child
  • To achieve the permanent goal identified in the case plan, if the goal is other than returning the child home

When Reasonable Efforts Are NOT Required

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 16.1-281; 16.1-278.4

A finding by the court that reasonable efforts were made to prevent removal of the child from his home shall not be required if the court finds that any of the following circumstances apply:

  • The parental rights of the parent regarding a sibling of the child have previously been involuntarily terminated.
  • The parent has been convicted of murder or voluntary manslaughter or a felony attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any such offense, and the victim of the offense was a child of the parent, a child with whom the parent resided at the time the offense occurred, or the other parent of the child.
  • The parent has been convicted of felony assault resulting in serious bodily injury, felony bodily wounding resulting in serious bodily injury, or felony sexual assault, and the victim of the offense was a child of the parent or a child with whom the parent resided at the time of such offense.
  • Based on clear and convincing evidence, the parent has subjected any child to aggravated circumstances.
  • The parent has abandoned a child.

'Aggravated circumstances' include torture, chronic or severe abuse, or chronic or severe sexual abuse, if the victim of such conduct was a child of the parent or child with whom the parent resided at the time such conduct occurred. Aggravated circumstances also include failure to protect the child from such conduct, if the conduct or failure to protect demonstrates a wanton or depraved indifference to human life or has resulted in the death of the child or in serious bodily injury to the child.