Florida Foster Care Review recruits and trains volunteers to review and monitor cases of children in foster care during monthly Citizen Review Panel (CRP) hearings. Each of FFCR’s 16 panels meets one day per month to conduct 10 to 12 reviews. Hearings are held 16 days out of the month at the Citizen Review Courtroom located on the grounds of the Juvenile Court.
Reviews must be performed on a timely basis and meet the criteria established by federal and state law. At each review, the panel examines the child’s case plan and supporting documents. After listening to testimony from witnesses and engaging in deliberations, findings and recommendations are submitted to the juvenile court for approval. Staff support is provided by FFCR Review Specialists who set the hearings, compile the documentation for review and facilitate the review hearing itself.
Panel recommendations must address the safety and appropriateness of a child’s placement and the specific progress being made to find the child a permanent home. The review serves as a barometer of case management, continually stimulating progress and improvements to ensure that needed services are provided, that the child is appropriately and safely placed and that the tasks identified in the case plan are being performed. Citizen review panels can recommend whether a child should be returned to the parent, continued in foster care, or be placed in adoption or other permanent placement.
The review process also provides a unique source for data collection regarding children in foster care. FFCR staff members prepare monthly summary reports on case activity and barriers to permanency that are provided to all system partners. These reports can be used as a quality assurance tool and support for system change by partners and stakeholders in the foster care system.