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WEST VIRGINIA CODE
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WVC 49 - 6 - 12 §49-6-12. Improvement period in cases of child neglect or abuse.

     (a) A court may grant a respondent an improvement period of a period not to exceed three months prior to making a finding that a child is abused or neglected pursuant to section two of this article only when:

     (1) The respondent files a written motion requesting the improvement period;

     (2) The respondent demonstrates, by clear and convincing evidence, that the respondent is likely to fully participate in the improvement period and the court further makes a finding, on the record, of the terms of the improvement period;

     (3) In the order granting the improvement period, the court (A) orders that a hearing be held to review the matter within sixty days of the granting of the improvement period; or (B) orders that a hearing be held to review the matter within ninety days of the granting of the improvement period and that the department submit a report as to the respondents progress in the improvement period within sixty days of the order granting the improvement period; and

     (4) The order granting the improvement period requires the department to prepare and submit to the court an individualized family case plan in accordance with the provisions of section three, article six-d of this chapter;

     (b) After finding that a child is an abused or neglected child pursuant to section two of this article, a court may grant a respondent an improvement period of a period not to exceed six months when:

     (1) The respondent files a written motion requesting the improvement period;

     (2) The respondent demonstrates, by clear and convincing evidence, that the respondent is likely to fully participate in the improvement period and the court further makes a finding, on the record, of the terms of the improvement period;

     (3) In the order granting the improvement period, the court (A) orders that a hearing be held to review the matter within sixty days of the granting of the improvement period; or (B) orders that a hearing be held to review the matter within ninety days of the granting of the improvement period and that the department submit a report as to the respondent's progress in the improvement period within sixty days of the order granting the improvement period;

     (4) Since the initiation of the proceeding, the respondent has not previously been granted any improvement period or the respondent demonstrates that since the initial improvement period, the respondent has experienced a substantial change in circumstances. Further, the respondent shall demonstrate that due to that change in circumstances the respondent is likely to fully participate in a further improvement period; and

     (5) The order granting the improvement period requires the department to prepare and submit to the court an individualized family case plan in accordance with the provisions of section three, article six-d of this chapter.

     (c) The court may grant an improvement period not to exceed six months as a disposition pursuant to section five of this article when:

     (1) The respondent moves in writing for the improvement period;

     (2) The respondent demonstrates, by clear and convincing evidence, that the respondent is likely to fully participate in the improvement period and the court further makes a finding, on the record, of the terms of the improvement period;

     (3) In the order granting the improvement period, the court:

     (A) Orders that a hearing be held to review the matter within sixty days of the granting of the improvement period; or

     (B) Orders that a hearing be held to review the matter within ninety days of the granting of the improvement period and that the department submit a report as to the respondent's progress in the improvement period within sixty days of the order granting the improvement period;

     (4) Since the initiation of the proceeding, the respondent has not previously been granted any improvement period or the respondent demonstrates that since the initial improvement period, the respondent has experienced a substantial change in circumstances. Further, the respondent shall demonstrate that due to that change in circumstances, the respondent is likely to fully participate in the improvement period; and

     (5) The order granting the improvement period shall require the department to prepare and submit to the court an individualized family case plan in accordance with the provisions of section three, article six-d of this chapter.

     (d) When any improvement period is granted to a respondent pursuant to the provisions of this section, the respondent shall be responsible for the initiation and completion of all terms of the improvement period. The court may order the state department to pay expenses associated with the services provided during the improvement period when the respondent has demonstrated that he or she is unable to bear such expenses.

     (e) When any improvement period is granted to a respondent pursuant to the provisions of this section, the respondent shall execute a release of all medical information regarding that respondent, including, but not limited to, information provided by mental health and substance abuse professionals and facilities. Such release shall be accepted by any such professional or facility regardless of whether the release conforms to any standard required by that facility.

     (f) When any respondent is granted an improvement period pursuant to the provisions of this article, the department shall monitor the progress of such person in the improvement period. When the respondent fails to participate in any service mandated by the improvement period, the state department shall initiate action to inform the court of that failure. When the department demonstrates that the respondent has failed to participate in any provision of the improvement period, the court shall forthwith terminate the improvement period.

     (g) A court may extend any improvement period granted pursuant to subsections (b) or (c) of this section for a period not to exceed three months when the court finds that the respondent has substantially complied with the terms of the improvement period; that the continuation of the improvement period will not substantially impair the ability of the department to permanently place the child; and that such extension is otherwise consistent with the best interest of the child.

     (h) Upon the motion by any party, the court shall terminate any improvement period granted pursuant to this section when the court finds that respondent has failed to fully participate in the terms of the improvement period.

     (i) This section may not be construed to prohibit a court from ordering a respondent to participate in services designed to reunify a family or to relieve the department of any duty to make reasonable efforts to reunify a family required by state or federal law.

     (j) Any hearing scheduled pursuant to the provisions of this section may be continued only for good cause upon a written motion properly served on all parties. When a court grants such continuance, the court shall enter an order granting the continuance which shall specify a future date when the hearing will be held.

     (k) Any hearing to be held at the end of an improvement period shall be held as nearly as practicable on successive days and shall be held as close in time as possible after the end of said improvement period and shall be held no later than sixty days of the termination of such improvement period.

     (l) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, no combination of any improvement periods or extensions thereto may cause a child to be in foster care more than fifteen months of the most recent twenty-two months, unless the court finds compelling circumstances by clear and convincing evidence that it is in the child's best interests to extend the time limits contained in this paragraph. Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2013 1st Special Session
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