John Nichols is the field manager of the Oregon Judicial Department Citizen Review Board, which encompasses Baker, Hood River, Malheur, Umatilla/Morrow, Union/Wallowa and Wasco counties — based at the Umatilla County Courthouse in Pendleton.

Did you know…

Of youth who age out of foster care without a permanent home:

• 1 in 5 will become homeless within the first several years of leaving foster care

• 4 in 5 young men will be involved in the criminal justice system

• 1 in 4 will suffer from post-
traumatic stress disorder

• all will be three times less likely to complete high school than the general population

• less than 8 percent will earn a college degree

In fiscal year 2017, a total of 11,645 children spent at least one day in some kind of foster care in Oregon, and an average of 7,831 children were in foster care on a daily basis (2017 Child Welfare Data Book, accessed at www.oregon.gov/DHS.)

An estimated one in three abused and neglected children will eventually victimize their own children, so it is important to try to reach these children when they are young, to help them return safely to their families or, if that cannot be accomplished, to find a significant and safe permanent home through adoption or
guardianship.

Children in foster care in Union and Wallowa counties — who have suffered abuse, neglect or unsafe living conditions in their homes — need their community’s help to ensure them a safe permanent home as soon as possible.

Each child in foster care is required by law to have their case reviewed by a judge or a panel of local citizens (Citizen Review Board) every six months to ensure the child is receiving adequate care. The Citizen Review Board, Oregon’s foster care review program, is a part of the Oregon Judicial Department, which establishes local boards in counties throughout the state, including Union and Wallowa counties. The panel is made up of three to seven volunteer members of the
community.

The volunteers are provided training and are appointed by the Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court. Members of the CRB are given case files in advance to review. They then serve on a panel for one day every other month and review foster care cases with everyone involved, including the Department of Human Services caseworker, parents, children, attorneys, Court Appointed Special Advocates and other significant persons. The CRB makes a series of legal findings and offers recommendations that go to DHS, the court and all involved parties to help ensure the children’s needs are being met.

The CRB provides a citizen voice on the services being provided to the family and/or the child and on the permanency decisions that are made for these vulnerable children. The CRB works to promote conditions that ensure that every child lives in a safe, secure, healthy, permanent home, preserving families whenever possible.

Volunteers are needed to serve on the Citizen Review Board. The CRB is looking for anyone who cares about the health and well-being of children and is willing to commit one day every other month to reviewing cases. You don’t need a background in child welfare.

For more information, contact John Nichols at 541-233-8142 or john.a.nichols@ojd.state.or.us, or the volunteer resource coordinator at CRB.Volunteer.Resources@ojd.state.or.us or 503-986-4535.

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