FFCR’s Citizen Review Panel Steers 8 Siblings Toward a Brighter Future
The 8 Jonas* children range in age from 13 to under 1 year old. At the time of their most recent review by FFCR’s Citizen Review Panel, the children had been in the foster care system for nearly two years. They were removed from their mother’s care due to severe neglect and physical abuse after days of not showing up at school, aggressive behavior towards teachers while at school, signs of physical punishment and extremely filthy and unhygienic living conditions. The father of some of the children had been deported and several of the children were believed to have suffered sexual abuse.
During the review, the panel learned that the current case manager was the third one assigned to the case in the past 5 months alone. After pouring through the reports and asking specific questions to the case manager, Guardian ad Litem, and other review participants, the panel discovered that – despite almost two years in foster care – the children continued to experience a myriad of medical, educational, behavioral, and psychological challenges. The new case manager was justifiably overwhelmed and could not provide answers and/or documentation regarding the status of treatment, visitation, and a number of other identified needs. The children were dispersed amongst several foster, relative and therapeutic placements. Visitation with the mother was irregular due to missed appointments and the challenge of transporting 8 behaviorally challenging children from multiple locations to a visitation center. Additionally, although the goal was reunification, the panel identified a number of legal and practical impediments to sending these children home.
After a comprehensive and thorough review, the Citizen Review Panel issued a comprehensive 25 +/- page report for each of the 8 children and recommended between 6 and 17 judicial orders per child, with an average of 8 orders each. The Panel found the Agency in non-compliance with their responsibility to the family and set the case for a Post Judicial Review Hearing before the judge to address the many deficits they had brought to light. At the next CRP Review, the panel will assess compliance with the court’s orders and continue to push for effective and meaningful support for the children and family.
Without the comprehensive review conducted by FFCR’s highly trained volunteers – and the hours of work prior to each hearing by FFCR’s experienced professional staff – the Jonas children, and others like them, would undoubtedly languish in foster care, further traumatized by a system unable to effectively meet their complex needs.
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*Name changed to protect privacy