Iowa’s Citizen Foster Care Review Boards (ICFCRB or FCRB) provide independent third-party citizen review of cases in the foster care system. Through joint efforts of citizens, the legislature, and the governor, the FCRB program was signed into law in July, 1984. Not all counties in Iowa have a review board; some counties have more than one active board, and some boards review cases from multiple counties. Local boards meet monthly or bi-monthly to review the status of children who have been removed from parental custody. These boards provide advisory recommendations to the Court and other system officials of what is in the children’s best interests.
Iowa’s child welfare system and juvenile court officials are doing many things to accomplish and support appropriate family reunifications, placements with relatives, and timely adoptions. Programs and services are provided to meet the needs of children experiencing both short and long stays in foster care. However, cases involving a child’s removal from parents are often complex, and they challenge our often overburdened child welfare system.
The FCRB serves as a less formal forum to hear about the progress or challenges being encountered, and to suggest solutions in the form of recommendations from trained and invested citizens with a variety of life experiences to draw from. The review process identifies systemic barriers to achieving timely permanency.
The FCRB provides an opportunity for ordinary Iowa citizens to use their collective talents to positively affect the lives of vulnerable children and families, and it provides system officials with a clear sense of how a concerned public views our government’s intervention into the lives of Iowa’s children and families. FCRB volunteers have an interest in child welfare in their communities. They come from all walks of life, representing various socioeconomic, racial and ethnic groups and occupations.
FCRB Volunteer Qualifications and Time Commitment
- Persons age 21 and older can apply to serve.
- Ability to maintain confidentiality, assess written and verbal communication, be objective and effectively communicate with persons who attend foster care reviews.
- Ability to work as a team to formulate findings and recommendations.
- Volunteers must be able to commit to a three-year term.
- Pass criminal and background checks.
The FCRB time commitment consists of one daytime meeting per month or every other month and time spent reading case files in preparation for the meeting day.
All FCRB volunteers are provided with an initial 15-hour training, which includes information regarding applicable laws, organizational information, and observing a local review board in action. All new FCRB volunteers join a board of seasoned volunteers who provide guidance as the new volunteers learn the role of board member. In addition, a facilitator attends every child’s review to assist the FCRB and to write the report to the Court.
Continuous learning opportunities are also provided so that the volunteer is kept up to date with current social work practice, new services and laws, and other topics of interest. In addition to the facilitator, all boards are supported by a local program coordinator and support staff who are available to answer questions, to provide for needed ongoing training, and to act as liaisons among the boards and the Court, HHS social work staff, and other entities.