In 1978, the Arizona legislature established the Foster Care Review Board (FCRB). It was created due to concerns that children within the foster care system weren’t being properly monitored, whether children were staying too long or not having the proper tabs kept on them.
The goal of the FCRB, which is a citizen’s review panel, is to advise the juvenile courts on the progress toward getting a child into a permanent home during the process in which the child is in an out-of-home placement.
Steve Lazere, who is the program manager for the FCRB in Arizona, defined the board as being a third party that brings an impartial viewpoint to the courts where they review, every six months, the progress of each child that has been placed in out-of-home care by Child Protective Services (CPS).
“I think it is important for people that are involved with the case, especially when you are looking at the permanency of children and when you are looking at their future and looking at what’s in the best interest of that child,” Lazere said. “It’s important that you have dedicated individuals, such as our volunteers, who are willing to spend the time and take a look at the case.”
Typically, children are in the care of FCRB from when they enter to when they leave, whether they are adopted, go back to their birth parents, or age out of the system.
Volunteers receive information, court reports, case plan and any other supplementary information that can help them with understanding each child’s specific case.
The FCRB volunteer, the CPS case manager, the foster parents, the birth parents and anyone else who is relevant in the case are invited to the meetings that take place every six months. During these meetings, each person is given an opportunity to give a statement.
“This gives the board the opportunity to get a sense as to what is happening and gives our volunteers the opportunity to make recommendations, which go directly to the juvenile court judge,” Lazere said.
Across the state, the board has more than 500 volunteers, but the FCRB is looking for more volunteers. People who are interested in volunteering must be 21 or older and have a passion for helping children.