Citizen Panel Review
About the Program
In years past, deprived children who were removed from their families and placed in foster care were reviewed by the court every two years. Needless to say, it was easy for a child to suffer in foster care and there was little court monitored effort to reunify families. That changed in 1989 when the court instituted the Judicial-Citizen Panel Review Program (panels).
Panel members are specially trained citizen-volunteers who work in groups of five. Each panel meets together monthly to review the welfare of children in Department of Family and Children Services (DFACS) custody. They consider the progress the child is making, the effectiveness of the current court order, the compliance of parents and caseworkers with the court order. This information is gathered by meeting with parents, the child, educators, caseworkers, and treatment professionals at the panel hearings. Ultimately, the panel makes suggestions for change that will best serve the child during the next six months.
Panel members must be familiar with community services, child development, education issues, drug treatment issues, medical and psychological issues. Their training is provided by the court and by the Council of Juvenile Court Judges of Georgia. After initial training, each panel member must attend five hours of training per year.
The panel's ultimate task is to see that the child is in a permanent home as soon as safely possible. The permanent home may be back with parents or guardians who have improved their parenting practices, with a relative, with an adoptive family, or with another permanent home approved by the court. If the panels are operating effectively, no child should be expected to grow up in foster care.
For more information about the Judicial-Citizen Review Panel Program, please call Anne Blaylock at (706) 281-4619.