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Delaware Docket Newsletter
Spring 2011


"Through both the individual child's review and our community advocacy, the Board remains focused on the efforts to achieve permanency for that child.  Founded on the belief that foster care is supposed to be temporary, the Board challenges the belief that long-term foster care is the best that can be done for a child.  Our statute limits our authority to recommendations and advocacy, but generally once there is awareness of a concern we have brought to the attention of a Department of Services to Children,Youth and their Families administrators or Family Court, action to resolve the concern takes place."

Julia Pearce, Executive Director of Child Placement Review Board

A unique part of the child welfare system, the Child Placement Review Board is both an agency housed within the Judicial Branch and an independent, citizen-based agency which handles the critical challenge of safe-guarding children and youth by conducting reviews of the placement of all children who have been placed by the state in out-of-home living arrangements for ten months or more. According to Julia Pearce, who is Executive Director of the Child Placement Review Board, "The purpose of these case reviews is to evaluate the well-being of children, assess what is in their best interests and generate recommendations that are submitted to the Division of Family Services and the Family Court regarding the appropriateness of the efforts to achieve permanency for the children. Because the Board is not part of the Division of Family Services, its reviews provide an independent assessment of the success of the placements and a fresh perspective on whether changes are needed."

The Board reviews the placement of children in three situations:

  1. Foster children placed by the Division of Family Services. This situation, which represents the majority of the Board's cases, requires the Board to evaluate plans for each child to find a permanent, safe and healthy solution to the child's needs, whether involving reunification with the child's family, living with another relative, adoption, or a long-term stable foster-care arrangement;
  2. Adjudicated youth in court-ordered treatment programs. In these cases, the Board determines whether the services provided will allow the youth to return to their communities without danger to themselves or others; and
  3. Non-adjudicated youth who are placed in settings that mix adjudicated and non-adjudicated youth in the same residential facility or foster home. Here, the Board's review focuses on ensuring that non-adjudicated youth are not put at risk by their placement with adjudicated youth.

One student who aged out of foster care graduated Magna Cum Laude from Temple University.  In her thank you note to the Scholarship Committee she wrote:

"Words cannot express my gratitude towards all of the support you have given me. You have truly helped make this accomplishment possible."

To conduct these reviews, the Board relies on 75 highly qualified volunteers as well as professional staff. Reviews are conducted by county-specific teams of volunteers and staff who meet on a twice monthly basis. In 2010, the Board conducted more than 800 reviews. Julia Pearce's note emphasizes that "The Board could not function without the expertise and assistance of its many volunteers who are willing to devote their time and energy to making a better life for these children and youth."

In addition to reviewing placement of children and youth, the Board operates two scholarship programs for post-secondary education for children who have been in foster care in Delaware: the Ivyane D.F. Davis Memorial Scholarship program which is a competitive, State-funded program and, in conjunction with the Division of Family Services, the federally funded Education and Training Vouchers program. Those programs recognize the challenges and obstacles faced by former foster care youth and strive to support the students in whatever way necessary to keep them working towards their educational goal.