- What is a child placement review?
- How does a review board operate?
- What do review boards look at in considering the best interest of the child?
- There are several different recommendation that the boards may make:
- Who may serve on a review board?
- What are voluntary and involuntary placements?
- How do citizens join a review board?
- Hudson County Child Placement Review Office
The New Jersey Legislature established the New Jersey Review Board System in 1978. Review Boards consist of court appointed citizen volunteers who are charged with monitoring the cases of all children placed outside their homes by the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). To help ensure that appropriate planning and services are provided to children in placement, the New Jersey Legislature established procedures for the administrative and judicial review of these childrens cases. There is at least one Child Placement Review Board in each county.
In monthly or biweekly meetings, Board members review all relevant written materials and conduct interviews with interested parties. As advocates for the child, they examine each case from the perspective of the child involved and consider what is in that childs best interest with a particular focus on safety and permanency. Through group process and consensus, members arrive at combined recommendations which are forwarded to the judge. The Board will support a childs return only if the problems that put that child in placement have been resolved.
The Child Placement Review Board may conduct Permanency Hearings in cases involving Voluntary Placement Agreements. A Permanency Hearing is held to address the permanent plan for the child. Under the current legislation it must be held no later than 12 months after the child has entered placement or after 30 days, when a determination is made that reasonable efforts to reunify the family are not required.
The Review Board meeting is an opportunity to voice concerns about the childs placement and future goals. Only interested and involved parties may attend; it is not a public meeting. Privacy is respected and all information is confidential. Interpreters and translators are available. Questions or comments may be mailed or telephoned to the Child Placement Review Coordinator.
- The appropriateness of the DYFS goal for the Child (the Placement Plan).
- Whether the plan will achieve the goal in a timely manner.
- The history of the child and family.
- The steps that parents agree to take in order to have the child returned (Service Agreement).
- Information about the placement.
- Reports from the Child Study Team, psychologists, court health and education consultants and other involved individuals.
- Information sent to the Board by any interested party including the child.
The child should be returned to the parents or legal guardians.
The child should continue in placement but more information is needed before a recommendation can be made.
The child should remain in placement until the long term goal of permanent placement is achieved
Copies of the recommendations are sent to those who received notices of the review: the parents or legal guardians, attorneys for parents and children, the child when appropriate, the foster parents, the staff of the residential facility (if applicable), and the Division of Youth and Family Services.
Review Board Members should be residents of the county in which they serve and should represent the various ethnic, racial, and economic population of that county. Members are appointed by the Assignment Judge for a provisional term of one year and may be reappointed for subsequent terms of three years. Each Review Board member takes an oath of confidentiality.
All volunteers must complete a basic training program of twelve hours that is given by the Administrative Office of the Courts and by the Child Placement Review Coordinator, a professional individual who works under the auspices of the Family Court Division Manager. Board members are required to participate in five hours of yearly continuing education offered by the Child Placement Review Advisory Council, or the County, or State Court. Continuing education helps ensure that Board members have a current and operational knowledge of the complex and changing nature of the problems facing children in out of home placement.
In a voluntary placement the parents or guardian voluntarily sign an agreement to place the child outside the home. The agreement is signed prior to placement informing the respective parties of their rights and responsibilities in relation to visitation, support, planning for the return of the child, and the Child Placement Review process.
In an involuntary placement there is a court order directing that the child be placed outside the home. Involuntary placement may be ordered for abuse and neglect, abandonment, homelessness, delinquency, or the juvenile and family in crisis. The Department of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) is mandated to present a permanent plan including reasonable efforts to achieve this plan for a minor who has been placed out of the home for one year.
Recruiting Child Placement Review Board Members is an ongoing process. Participation in Child Placement Review can help ensure that children in placement find permanent safe homes and care givers in a timely manner. The Administrative Office of the Courts, Family Division and the County Children in Court Teams have further information to help volunteer citizens become involved.