In re Jonathan G

In In re Jonathan G., 198 W. Va. 716, 482 S.E.2d 893 (1996), the Court considered the role that foster parents may play in abuse and neglect proceedings in view of the significant relationship they have developed with the child for whom they have cared. The Court concluded that, as a result of the bonds that have formed, foster parents are, subject to the court's discretion, entitled to participate in such proceedings. In this regard, the Court held that "the level and type of participation by the foster parents in such cases is left to the sound discretion of the circuit court with due consideration of the length of time the child has been cared, for by the foster parents and the relationship that has developed." (Syl. pt. 1, in part, id.) The Court ultimately concluded that, as a result of the strong emotional attachment the child had to the foster parents, who had served as his custodians from the time he was ten months old until he was over four years old, they were entitled to visitation with the child, provided such visitation was in the boy's best interests.