2009 West Virginia Code
§49-6D-2 Purpose and intent.

§49-6D-2. Purpose and intent.
(a) In pursuit of the purposes of this chapter to provide a comprehensive system of child welfare throughout the state which will (1) assure to each child such care and guidance, preferably in the child's home, as will serve the spiritual, emotional, mental and physical welfare of the child, and (2) preserve and strengthen the family ties wherever possible, while recognizing both the fundamental rights of parenthood and the state's responsibility to assist the family in providing the necessary training and education of all children, the Legislature enacts this article to provide for the protection of the children of this state from abuse and neglect and to provide direction to responsible state officers. This article is enacted in pursuit of the purpose of this chapter and the heretofore expressed intention of the Legislature to provide for the removal of a child from the custody of the child's parents only when the child's welfare cannot be otherwise adequately safeguarded, and is enacted to secure to a child removed from the family a degree of custody, care and control consistent with the child's best interests and the other goals of this chapter, as expressed in section one, article one of this chapter.

(b) In light of this purpose, the Legislature intends to provide for:

(1) The acceptance by the department of referrals or reports of abuse or neglect, both judicial and extra judicial, voluntary or involuntary, and the offering of opportunities by the department whereby parents, guardians or custodians and their children may avail themselves of public and private resources offering programs and services which are primarily preventive and nonpunitive and geared toward a rehabilitation of the home and a treatment of the underlying factors which cause or tend to cause abuse and neglect;

(2) The vigorous and fair assessment and investigation of alleged cases of child abuse or neglect to the end that no child subjected to abuse or neglect shall be left without assistance consistent in all respects with the purposes and goals of this chapter and article;

(3) The thorough and professional diagnosis of cases to determine whether child abuse or neglect exists, whether court action is appropriate, or whether a high risk or danger to children requires emergency services or the initiation of an immediate response;

(4) An assessment of the family, family members and family problems in each case, to identify strengths as well as areas for improvement, and to determine how best to augment the protective services functions of the department with community resources available to and needed by the family, to the end that a plan can be implemented whereby every abused or neglected child in the state will be provided an environment for his or her custody, care and control which offers as normal a family life as practicable, free of abuse or neglect, preferably in the child's own home;

(5) In cases where removal of a child is required, but a termination of parental rights is not ordered, the opportunity for the family to visit and maintain family ties in the family home or in home-like and other conducive surroundings, avoiding, wherever possible, the austere surroundings of a public or private agency with limited time and lack of privacy;

(6) The fulfillment of the state's responsibility to assist the family in a manner consonant with the purposes of this article, even in cases requiring temporary removal of the child, without fear by the citizens that the state's exercise of that responsibility will be unfairly used as a means of terminating family ties;

(7) The prompt and effective termination of parental rights in cases where there is an abject failure of the parents or custodians to reasonably utilize fair, professionally developed and communicated opportunities to end the abuse or neglect.

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