Jan 30, 2014 9:51 AM by Ryan Haarer
TUCSON - In 2012 there was a nearly 50% jump in petitions claiming abuse and neglect of children in Pima County.
Now that CPS is under fire the state is tasked with reviewing 6,500 never before reviewed cases, putting pressure on the foster care review board which tracks the progress of children in foster care and makes recommendations on placement to the court.
"We are looking after the best interest of the children but we certainly want to hear from the parents to be able to encourage them in trying to reunify with their children," said Luann Waldron, a 22 year volunteer.
Five volunteers per board each spend six to ten hours preparing for their monthly reviews where they can speak to everyone involved in the case. Different boards meet daily.
"Because of the staffing changes in CPS and the behavioral health providers, attorneys and even to a certain point the judicial bench, changes in staffing, our boards are often the continuity of the case," said Sandy Guizzetti, regional manager for the Foster Care Review Board.
Former judge and now court administrator, Stephen Rubin, says beyond the continuity, the review board provides a fresh prospective on each case that the judge is required to consider and comment on.
"Often times the Foster Care Review Board gets the straight story from the parents or the children or the relatives or the case manager that the court doesn't get an opportunity to fully develop in a thirty minute review hearing," said Rubin.
The board currently serves 3,000 kids with only 26 boards when there should be 30. They need 36 additional volunteers willing to devote their time and who have a desire to help our community's most vulnerable children.
For more information on the requirements visit azcourts.gov/fcrb or call their office at (520) 388-4300.