Foster parenting is not the only way to help a child in need. The Department of Children and Families offers a unique opportunity for community volunteers who would like to make a difference in a foster child's life. For a few hours of your time each month, you can participate on a panel that helps plan a brighter future for each child in care. DCF is required by law to review each foster child's case every six months. The review is conducted by a three member panel, with one member being from the local community. A volunteer reviewer can make a difference for child. Below are some of the most common questions about being a volunteer case reviewer:
What is Case Review?
The family, DCF social workers, foster parents and others working with the family meet to review the service plan and discuss progress towards the established goal for each child. In accordance with Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 197, which was established in 1984, each child's case is reviewed every six months to ensure that necessary services are being provided.
What is a Volunteer Case Reviewer?
Volunteer Case Reviewers are community members (not employed by the Department of Children and Families) who participate on panels to review the case of children who have been placed in foster homes or group homes.
Who else is on the Case Review panel?
The Case Review panel consists of these three members: a case reviewer from the DCF Foster Care Review Unit, a member of the administrative staff from the local DCF area office and a Volunteer Case Reviewer from the local community.
What decisions will the panel make?
The three-member case review panel determines whether
- Continued placement of the child is necessary and appropriate;
- The tasks in the service plan have been completed;
- Progress has been made toward the goal; and
- The permanent goal and projected date for it's achievement are appropriate
When and where do reviews occur?
Each review lasts about an hour and a half and is conducted at a local Department of Children and Families area office. Reviews occur Monday - Friday during the hours of 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
What are the requirements to become a Volunteer Case Reviewer?
- Age 18 or older
- Commitment to the welfare of children and families
- Fairness and objectivity
- Good communication skills
- Awareness of culturally sensitive issues
- Ability to encourage active, honest discussion among review participants
- Participation in a day and a half of pre-service training
- Available to review at least one case per month
- One year commitment
What are the benefits of becoming a Volunteer Case Reviewer?
- Help ensure that children in your community will have permanent homes
- Opportunity to share in a decision-making process that affects children
- Gain knowledge about services your community provides to families
- A small stipend for participating in each review
On-going support and training by the Foster Care Review Unit (Continuing Education Units (CEU) are available at some training sessions)
For more information about the Volunteer Case Review program, please call 1-800-423-2022 or 1-800286-0323 (for Western Massachusetts).
This information is provided by the Department of Children and Families.