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Supporting safe and timely permanency through review, advocacy, and collaboration.
The Foster Care Review Board Program (FCRBP) is a system of third-party review initially established by Public Act 422 of 1984, and most recently amended in Public Act 170 of 1997. The program was established by the Legislature to help ensure safe and timely permanency for children in the state foster care system. The program is administered by the State Court Administrative Office of the Michigan Supreme Court and is comprised of citizen volunteers who serve on one of 30 local review boards throughout the state.
Boards meet once a month to review both randomly selected and requested cases of children presently in the state foster care system. Upon review of the case, county boards are authorized and expected to provide an objective perspective regarding the child's safety and care, as well as the appropriateness and timeliness of the court-approved permanency plan. Written findings and related recommendations are forwarded to the applicable court, to the local Department of Human Services and contract agencies, and to other parties directly involved in the case.
New volunteers participate in an initial orientation, and all board members participate in an annual training on policies and issues related to foster care. There are presently more than 180 dedicated and well-trained citizen volunteers who donate more than 21,000 hours annually to help promote the safety and well-being of Michigan's most vulnerable children.
A statewide advisory committee, required by statute, includes leaders from the child welfare community. The committee assures that the FCRBP fulfills its statutory mandate and provides maximum benefit to the foster care system with the resources provided.
State statute also requires publication of an annual report to the Michigan Legislature and Governor. The annual report details the efforts of the FCRBP and shares with Michigan policymakers some of the issues that citizen volunteers identify as they review foster care cases from throughout the state. Systemic issues that delay permanency or compromise child and family well-being are highlighted and analyzed in the report with related recommendations.
Volunteers must be willing and able (with related training) to:
1. Read and comprehend various types of written case material; e.g., case narratives, psychological reports, etc.; to obtain required information.
2. Interview people from a variety of backgrounds.
3. Work constructively within a group process.
4. Attend the regularly scheduled review meeting one day each month on a weekday between 8:30 am and 5:00 pm.
5. Attend trainings scheduled in November and May for educational purposes.
6. Volunteers will be asked to participate in advocacy activities as their time and interest permit.
Citizen volunteers shall have demonstrated an interest in children and their welfare through: being parents or guardians of children; community service; professional experience in child care or possession of a background or degree in social work, sociology, psychology, education, medicine, theology, law or a related human services field.
Review board members cannot be employees of juvenile court, the Department of Human Services, or any agency involved in the delivery of foster care services. Citizen volunteers must reside within the county of their local board.
Volunteers selected are appointed to a three year term. Service on the board is always at the discretion of the board’s Program Representative.
Volunteers with the Foster Care Review Board Program are reimbursed for expenses, such as parking, mileage, and luncheon costs, incurred in performing the duties related to conducting case reviews.
- Amanda Kucharek
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