According to the Department of Child Safety, as of September 30, 2015, 85.7% of Arizona children in foster care are there because of neglect. Arizona individuals have a unique and rewarding opportunity available to them: become a member of a Foster Care Review Board (FCRB).
What is the FCRB?
The Foster Care Review Board is a board of five individuals whose job it is to give a recommendation to a judge. One week before a case is presented to the Board, a group of 5 volunteer members spend 6-8 hours reviewing the documents associated with the open case. At a review meeting, the Board will listen to birth parents, foster parents, grandparents, case managers, therapists, attorneys, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volunteers, or sometimes even the children to offer the judge their recommendation regarding the case. The Board may ask questions for clarification so it can give a complete and accurate recommendation. Pima County alone has 29 boards serving almost 3,000 children in foster care.
How does it impact foster children?
The FCRB’s recommendation is taken very seriously by the judge who makes the final determination for the child and family. The Board, after hearing from various people, may recommend very different outcomes depending on the case. For instance, perhaps the Board decides in one case that the child’s best interests would best be served if the birth parents and child were reunified. In the alternative, the Board may decide in a different case that terminating the parents’ parental rights would be in the child’s best interests and to move forward with an adoption plan.
The Board members may also offer important recommendations during the actual case, before severance and adoption is even brought up. For example, the Board may hear that a child is struggling in school, so it could recommend the child receive tutoring. Or, maybe the birth parents need a push or some assistance to help facilitate healthy parenting. In that case, the Board may recommend healthy-relationship classes or relapse prevention classes.
The judges seriously consider the recommendations given by the Board, because it involves neutral third parties to the case who offer very different and important perspectives. The Board’s ability to offer diverse and unique suggestions are vital to courts, parents, and children. In the end, Foster Care Review Boards protect the most vulnerable and important part of Arizona: our children.
How can I learn more to volunteer?
If you are interested in becoming a FCRB volunteer, contact Foster Care Review Board Dependent Children’s Services Division at 520-388-4300 or 1-866-558-1791 (toll free) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any questions about dependency, foster care adoptions, or adoptions in general, please give us a call. We would be happy to discuss Arizona law with you and the impact that Foster Care Review Boards have on foster children.