The Foster Care Review Board Program (FCRBP) is a system of third-party review initially established by Public Act 422 of 1984, and most recently amended in Public Act 170 of 1997. The program was established by the Legislature to help ensure safe and timely permanency for children in the state foster care system. The program is administered by the State Court Administrative Office of the Michigan Supreme Court and is comprised of citizen volunteers who serve on one of 30 local review boards throughout the state.
Boards meet once a month to review both randomly selected and requested cases of children presently in the state foster care system. Upon review of the case, county boards are authorized and expected to provide an objective perspective regarding the child's safety and care, as well as the appropriateness and timeliness of the court-approved permanency plan. Written findings and related recommendations are forwarded to the applicable court, to the local Department of Human Services and contract agencies, and to other parties directly involved in the case.
New volunteers participate in an initial orientation, and all board members participate in an annual training on policies and issues related to foster care. There are presently more than 180 dedicated and well-trained citizen volunteers who donate more than 21,000 hours annually to help promote the safety and well-being of Michigan's most vulnerable children.
A statewide advisory committee, required by statute, includes leaders from the child welfare community and one representative from each local review board. The committee assures that the FCRBP fulfills its statutory mandate and provides maximum benefit to the foster care system with the resources provided.
State statute also requires publication of an annual report to the Michigan Legislature and Governor. The annual report details the efforts of the FCRBP and shares with Michigan policymakers some of the issues that citizen volunteers identify as they review foster care cases from throughout the state. Systemic issues that delay permanency or compromise child and family well-being are highlighted and analyzed in the report with related recommendations.
Primary services include:
- Reviewing randomly selected and requested cases of children in the state foster care system
- Conducting appeals by foster parents of children being replaced by the foster care agency
- Providing information and referrals regarding foster care programs and services to the general public.
- Publishing an annual report, with related recommendations to the Legislature and Governor regarding critical needs in the state foster care system.
- Advocating for essential improvements in the delivery of local and statewide foster care services with key policymakers and funding providers.