July 15, 2024 1:34 pm

Local News

Arizona Foster Care Review Boards Rely on Volunteers to Place Children in Safe Homes

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by Isabela Gamez/UA Don Bolles fellow, Arizona Mirror

The Foster Care Review Board, a volunteer program established in 1978 under the Arizona Supreme Court, is looking for volunteers. 

Volunteers are responsible for analyzing the cases of foster children involved in a dependency action or in an out-of-home placement and discussing them in one board meeting per month through Zoom until permanency is achieved. 

“Somebody needs to make sure permanency for these children is happening, rather than them languishing in long-term foster care,” said Luann Waldron, a retired pediatric nurse and current member of the Pima County review board. 

There are about 108 boards in the state, 24 of those are in Pima County. 

Pima County is currently reviewing around 2,400 cases and they are in desperate need for more volunteers. 

One week prior to the meeting, board members receive relevant documents and materials containing information on the children’s cases through a website. 

“I spend 8-10 hours the week prior to the meeting reviewing the cases,” said Waldron. 

The monthly board meetings are conducted by a Foster Care Review Board program specialist and each interested party is able to speak about each individual case. Then, the board collectively comes to a conclusion. A written report is given to the juvenile court regarding the permanency options of the child. 

Waldron explained that when she first started volunteering on the board 31 years ago, there would be times where there would be teenagers that had been in “23 different foster homes and she always thought that’s crazy, something needs to be done.” 

Volunteers must be 21 years of age and pass a background check. They are also required to complete annual in-service training which includes attending conferences and workshops, conducting community presentations, and reading related books and documentaries. The application can be found on their website

A board member, who asked to remain anonymous, explained that anyone with backgrounds in counseling, family studies, family law, law enforcement, education and health care would be best fit for board positions.

“If you cannot even wrap your head around physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, abandonment happening to a three year old, then you can’t do this job because you have to become very critical,” she said. 

This story was written by Isabela Gamez, a writer for the Arizona Mirror, where this story first appeared.

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