GENERAL FUNCTION: The Volunteer will participate as a panel member in case reviews conducted by the Department of Children and Families. A case review is a meeting with the family, social worker, and service providers to discuss and determine what has been accomplished and what is planned for the family's future. Massachusetts law requires the Foster Care Review Unit (FCRU), an independent unit within the Department, to conduct the reviews for all families who have a child placed outside the home. The law also requires that reviews be conducted by a panel of three people: a staff member of the FCRU, a Department of Children and Families employee, and a Volunteer Case Reviewer who, as often as possible, shares the cultural background of the children under review.
EXAMPLES OF RESPONSIBILITIES:
- Participates in families’ case reviews as assigned by the FCRU. Asks questions of participants to gather information and assists in reaching a consensus or a negotiated agreement about the family's action plan and the permanency plan for each child in care. Participates in making determinations required by Massachusetts law about the case under review.
- Assists in identifying problems and potential solutions so that the needs of families with children in substitute care are met.
- Maintains the confidentiality of all information discussed in connection with and during case reviews.
- Advises the FCRU of dates and times he/she is available to attend reviews. Immediately informs the FCRU if he/she has been scheduled to review a case in which there is potential conflict of interest and/or in which the volunteer knows any member of the client/family under review.
- Training on the child welfare system and services available to families.
- Continuing Education Units (CEU's) for ongoing training.
- Opportunity to enhance one's understanding of DCF-involved children and their families.
- Opportunity to advocate for a child in need and share in the decision making which impacts his/her future.
- Ability to encourage active, honest discussion among the people attending a case review.
- Ability to help reach consensus on, and when necessary to mediate a resolution to, difficult interpersonal conflicts.
- Ability to make fair and objective decisions.
- Strong interest in and commitment to the welfare of children and their families.
- Must be 18 years or older.
- Available to participate in at least one case review per month. Reviews are usually held between 10:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M. Each review lasts up to 90 minutes (approximately).
- Participate in pre-service training provided by the FCRU.
- Complete a Volunteer Case Reviewer Application
- Complete a Background Record Request Form
- Submit a picture ID
- Provide two references (preferably one professional and one personal)
- Participate in a personal interview
- Participate in pre-service training provided by FCRU
INTERESTED PERSONS MAY SUBMIT AN APPLICATION VIA THIS WEBSITE OR MAY DOWNLOAD THE APPLICATION TO SCAN OR MAIL. BACKGROUND RECORD REQUEST FORMS MUST BE MAILED WITH AN ORIGINAL SIGNATURE AND A COPY OF YOUR PICTURE ID. PLEASE SUBMIT AS FOLLOWS:
ALL PROSPECTIVE VOLUNTEERS MAY SCAN APPLICATION TO:
DANAAH MCCALLUM, DIRECTOR of VOLUNTEER SERVICES at:
APPLICATIONS BEING MAILED AS WELL AS ALL REQUIRED BACKGROUND RECORD REQUEST INFORMATION SHOULD BE MAILED TO:
FOR RESIDENTS LIVING IN WESTERN MASS AND SOUTH CENTRAL/BLACKSTONE VALLEY AREA:
Foster Care Review Unit
Department of Children and Families
140 High Street, 5th Floor
Springfield, MA 01105
Tel: (413) 452-3372
FOR RESIDENTS LIVING IN MERRIMACK VALLEY, GREATER BOSTON, BOSTON, WORCESTER AND SOUTHEAST MASS:
Foster Care Review Unit
Department of Children and Families
600 Washington Street, 6th Floor
Boston, MA 02111
PROCESS OF SELECTING VOLUNTEERS
In each Case Review, the Volunteer Case Reviewer has the potential to make a difference in a child's life. A Volunteer's sensitive, thoughtful and objective participation enhances the case review process. The process of selecting Volunteer Case Reviewers is designed to provide potential volunteers with sufficient information to allow them to decide if they are able to be a Volunteer Case Reviewer and for the Foster Care Review Unit to determine which applicants will be accepted to the program.
Each candidate will submit an Application form, a Background Record Request Form, and picture identification to allow DCF to conduct a Name Search of the DCF Central Registry and a Background Record Check which includes a Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) and a Sex Offender Registry Information (SORI) check. The existence of a record would not per se exclude an applicant from participating in the program. However, the FCRU will determine if the nature of an existing record has a bearing on the Volunteer's ability to assume and carry out the responsibilities of a Volunteer Case Reviewer.
The FCRU will contact the references provided and the local DCF Area Director. The references will be given a brief description of the position to assist them in responding on behalf of the applicant.
The Volunteer Coordinator will contact each applicant to arrange a personal interview.
Selected applicants will receive information on the dates, times, and location of the one and a half day pre-service training. The pre-service training is designed to give applicants an opportunity to learn more about the case review process. Weekend and weekday training will be offered to accommodate applicants' schedules whenever possible.
Applicants who successfully complete the pre-service training program will be required to sign an agreement with the FCRU as a Volunteer Case Reviewer, prior to serving on Case Review panels. Each Volunteer Case Reviewer will be asked to participate in a minimum of one case review meeting a month and commit to one year of service.
At any of the above points in the selection process, an applicant or the FCRU may determine that another type of volunteer opportunity might be more appropriate for an applicant's interests and experience.
Thank you for your interest in the case review process.