Foster Parents’ Role in Foster Care Review

Adapted from AOK’s Guidebook, “It Takes a Village

A foster care review is one of the most valuable milestones in a foster care case. As a foster parent, you have a rare opportunity to sit around the same table as everyone else, and hear the same information in real time. This meeting is held every six months, while a child is in care. Depending on how many individuals are involved in a case, the meeting can be quite large. Birth parents (birth mother and her children’s father(s)), children over 14, foster parents, all relevant social workers, and a 3-member review team all participate in the meeting. Parents’ and children’s attorneys are also invited to participate, but do not consistently attend.

During the meeting, the team will review the birth parents’ progress toward reunification with their children, how children’s needs are being met in foster care, and the degree to which all parties (birth parents, DCF, foster parents) are meeting their respective responsibilities. The review committee (typically comprised of a foster care reviewer, a supervisor who is not affiliated with the case, and a trained community volunteer) will make recommendations about any changes that need to be made to the trajectory of the case. Importantly, an outcome of a foster care review is just that – a recommendation. The foster care review committee has no authority in and of itself and cannot mandate any particular outcome. Typically, the committee will recommend whether or not the child’s goal should change (to adoption from reunification, to reunification from adoption, or perhaps to kinship care if that is an option).

Foster parents are expected to attend, or provide a summary of the child’s needs and progress if they aren’t able to attend. However, we strongly recommend that you make every effort to attend every foster care review. Of all the inner workings of the foster care system, this is the only consistent opportunity for foster parents to be part of the team in a meaningful way, as it pertains to the trajectory of the case. It has been our experience that information can be either intentionally or unintentionally withheld. At a foster care review meeting, however, foster parents are privy to any and all information discussed and this information will be able to tell you more about the status of the case than just about any other interaction you will have with DCF. Additionally, it’s crucially important that the review committee has a clear picture of your foster child’s needs and experiences, and foster parents are uniquely qualified to be able to provide that information. Again, we can’t recommend more strongly that you make every effort to attend and participate in the foster care reviews.

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