Thousands of Kentucky children enter foster care each year due to dependency, neglect and abuse. Citizen Foster Care Review Board volunteers play an important role in protecting these children by reviewing the cases of each child in the custody of the
Department for Community Based Services in the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
These cases include young people whose commitments have been extended, children placed for adoptions that have not been finalized, children who have been returned home but remain committed and young adults whose out-of-home commitments have been extended.
CFCRB volunteers provide recommendations to judges who make decisions about placing children in safe, permanent homes. Volunteers help ensure that permanency for at-risk children remains the central objective of the courts and the cabinet.
Kentucky General Assembly created the CFCRB in 1982 as a way to decrease the time children spend in foster care. The AOC's Division of Family Services oversees the program by providing support and education to CFCRB volunteers. The division is dedicated to eliminating racial inequities and injustices for the children and families served by the CFCRB.
There are review boards in all 120 counties and more than 750 dedicated volunteers statewide. Volunteers come from a variety of educational and professional backgrounds, but they all share a sincere concern for the welfare of children. The average length of service is six years, which demonstrates a long-term commitment to the children they serve.
Interested Party Reviews
An interested party review is an interactive review that focuses on case plans for the parents and their child and the progress being made to secure permanency for the child. Those involved in IPRs include CFCRB volunteers, parents, care providers, service providers, Department for Community Based Services personnel, Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers and the attorneys for the children and their parents. Once the mandatory IPR has been completed, the local CFCRB submits a comprehensive report with findings and recommendations to the judge.
Since the CFCRB adopted IPR in 2008, the number of boards using this interactive review has grown to 74 percent of all cases reviewed.
Appointing & Training Volunteers
Individuals interested in volunteering must consent to criminal record and Central Registry checks and complete an initial six-hour training session. They are trained on these topics:
- CHFS and Department for Community Based Services procedures
- Court processes
- Dependency, neglect and abuse case forms
- Process for conducting a review
- Mental health issues of children in out-of-home care
Once an individual has completed the background checks and training, a recommendation is made to the chief judge of the local Family Court or District Court for the volunteer to be appointed to the local board. Judges appoint volunteers for three-year terms.
After being appointed, volunteers receive a comprehensive handbook on the program and opportunities to earn the required six hours of annual continuing education.
Review boards typically meet once a month for at least two hours. Each board has at least three members, with some boards having as many as 12 members.
How to Volunteer
Advocating for the dependent, neglected and abused children is an important and meaningful way to invest time and energy. To inquire about volunteering, contact the Division of Family Services at CFCRB@kycourts.net.