In the community

Malheur County foster care review board in search of volunteers

VALE – A local board that is a key piece of the foster care system in Malheur County is searching for new volunteers.
The Malheur County Citizens Review Board reviews cases of children placed in foster care by state officials. Typically, between five and six volunteers serve on the court-appointed board but there are just two people now, said board member Lee Graves.
“The board makes recommendations to the court. In essence, the citizen review board is the eyes and ears of the court. We make sure DHS (Oregon Department of Health and Human Services) treats these kids under what the rules say,” said Graves.
The board can question the state on issues regarding the child or if the state is following laws and policies regarding youth in foster care.
By law the board must receive a briefing on each child in foster care in the county every six months. The board is also are required to make legally-binding findings on each case and report to the court and all other parties of a case.
The board meets the third Wednesday of every month where members review cases of children in foster care. That can include meeting with families and the children in closed sessions.
Board members are appointed by a state judge and confirmed by the chief justice of the Oregon Supreme Court.
The board is essential for the foster care system, said Graves, but the number of cases makes the job difficult with only two board members. Now, he said there are more than 270 children in Malheur County in foster care. That’s a significant jump from 2017 when there were 179 children in foster care in the county.
“It is just the two of us and there are five to six files this month we will go over,” said Graves.
Graves said there is some training involved with the position. Those interested in volunteering for the board should contact Graves at 541-709-8174.
The process to become a board member includes applying, a criminal background check along with online training and 12 hours of in-person orientation.
News tip? Contract reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected].

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