Judicial Citizen Review Panel
The Judicial Citizen Review Panel (JCRP) is a program of the Georgia Council of Juvenile Court Judges. Its purpose is to assist judges in determining the most appropriate permanency plan for children in foster care. By law every child in the State of Georgia who is in foster care must have their cases reviewed either by a Judge or Judicial Citizen Review Panel every six months. The JCRPs consist of a cross-section of volunteers from the community, who undergo two days of specialized training from the Council of Juvenile Court Judges to acquaint them with the process of foster care review. Volunteers are also required to complete a criminal history check. Upon completion of the training, the volunteers are sworn in as officers of the court, to act in the best interest of the child. Panel volunteers (known as panel members), serve on one of six panels, who review cases on a monthly basis of children placed into foster care by the Juvenile Court. The Panel's ultimate task is to see that the children are in a permanent home as soon as safely possible. Panel hearings are conducted with panel members. Persons present for the panel includes:
- Division of Family and Children Services case workers
- the children
- other family members
- foster parents
- service providers, and
Panel members review the progress of the parent or custodian, to ensure compliance with the court ordered case plan and to make sure all necessary services are being provided to the family, as well as monitoring the welfare of the children. Panel reviews are also designed to evaluate and make recommendations to DFCS on the progress or lack of progress on a case. Panel members also seek out community resources that might aid in the strengthening of these families to avoid future involvement with the Court. Panel members then make recommendations to the judge on what should happen next in the case. The judge has final authority in all matters that appear before the JCRP.