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

Date: September 2019

What Are Reasonable Efforts

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 49-1-201; 49-1-206

'Child abuse and neglect services' means social services that are directed toward the following:

  • Protecting and promoting the welfare of children who are abused or neglected
  • Identifying, preventing, and remedying conditions that cause child abuse and neglect
  • Preventing the unnecessary removal of children from their families by identifying family problems and assisting families in resolving problems that could lead to a removal of children and a breakup of the family
  • In cases in which children have been removed from their families, providing time-limited reunification services to the children and the families to reunify those children with their families or some portion thereof
  • Placing children in suitable adoptive homes when reunifying the children with their families, or some portion thereof, is not possible or appropriate
  • Ensuring the adequate care of children or juveniles who have been placed in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Resources or third parties

The term 'time-limited reunification services' means individual, group, and family counseling; inpatient, residential, or outpatient substance abuse treatment services; mental health services; assistance to address domestic violence; services designed to provide temporary child care; and therapeutic services for families, including crisis nurseries and transportation to or from those services, provided during 15 of the most recent 22 months a child has been in foster care, as determined by the earlier date of the first judicial finding that the child is subjected to abuse or neglect or the date that is 60 days after the child is removed from home.

When Reasonable Efforts Are Required

Citation: Ann. Code § 49-4-604

Reasonable efforts must be made to do the following:

  • To preserve the family and to prevent placement
  • To eliminate the need for removing the child from the child's home
  • To make it possible for the child to return home safely

When Reasonable Efforts Are NOT Required

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 49-4-602; 49-4-604

The department is not required to make reasonable efforts to preserve the family if the court determines the following:

  • The parent has subjected the child, another child of the parent, or any other child residing in the same household to aggravated circumstances, including abandonment, torture, chronic abuse, and sexual abuse.
  • The parent has done any of the following:
    • Committed murder or voluntary manslaughter of the child's other parent, another child of the parent, or any other child residing in the same household
    • Attempted or conspired to commit such a murder or voluntary manslaughter
    • Committed a malicious assault that results in serious bodily injury to the child, the child's other parent, to another child of the parent, or any other child residing in the same household
    • Committed sexual assault or sexual abuse of the child, the child's other parent, another child of the parent, or any other child residing in the same household
    • Has been required by State or Federal law to register with a sex offender registry
  • The parental rights of the parent to another child have been terminated involuntarily.
  • The parent has habitually abused or is addicted to alcohol, controlled substances, or drugs, to the extent that proper parenting skills have been seriously impaired.
  • The parent has refused to cooperate in the development of a reasonable family case plan.
  • The abusing parent or parents have not responded to rehabilitative efforts designed to reduce or prevent the abuse or neglect of the child.
  • The parent has abandoned the child.
  • The abusing parent has repeatedly or seriously injured the child physically or emotionally or has sexually abused or sexually exploited the child.
  • The battered parent's parenting skills have been seriously impaired, and the person has willfully refused or is presently unwilling or unable to cooperate with a reasonable treatment plan.