TBA Law Blog


Posted by: Christy Gibson on Dec 6, 2012

Statutory authority relating to Foster Care Review Boards: TCA §37-2-404 and TCA §37-2-406

Existence, Membership

  • One or more FCRBs exist in each county or in a region comprised of contiguous counties (“regional FCRBs”), with appointments made by the judge(s) having juvenile court jurisdiction, unless the judge personally reviews each case or elects to personally review certain cases instead of assigning them to the Board. [If so, the judge shall specify by written order of the court duly entered on the record the guidelines and procedures the judge will use to ensure that the judge conducts the reviews required by this part for every child in foster care under the jurisdiction of the judge's court within ninety days of the child's date of foster care and no less frequently than every six months thereafter until such time as the child is no longer in foster care.] Nothing in the statute precludes the court from reviewing a case in lieu of the FCRB, either on a motion by any party or on the court's own motion.
  • A FCRB must consist of five members in counties with a population of less than 100,000 and seven members on regional FCRBs or in counties with a population of more than 100,000. A quorum is required for each FCRB session.
  • The judge may request recommendations for FCRB membership from the Administrative Offices of the Court (AOC) or the Department of Children’s Services (DCS). The Board may include a nurse, a doctor, a lawyer, a member of a human resource agency, a member of a local education agency, a staff member of a local mental health agency, a youth who was formerly in foster care and shall include a mother or father with a minor child, and a person under the age of thirty. FCRB members shall receive relevant training and shall serve for two years without any form of compensation or reimbursement.
  • The youth services officer or other designated officer of the court shall serve as a facilitator to each county or regional Board.

Overview of Process and Expectations

  • With a review at a minimum of ninety days after placement in foster care, and every six months (from court or FCRB review) thereafter, the FCRB should determine and report on:
    • the safety, permanency and well-being of the child by assessing the necessity and appropriateness of continued foster care placement;
    • the appropriateness of services for the child;
    • the compliance of all parties to the statement of responsibilities;
    • the extent of progress in alleviating or mitigating the causes necessitating placement in foster care and in achieving the goals contained in the permanency plan; and
    • the projected date on which the goal of the plan will be achieved.
  • These determinations are to be informed by the permanency plan for the child being reviewed, as well as report to the Board by DCS on progress in achieving the goals set out in the plan.
  • The FCRB shall report to the judge on each child reviewed as follows:
    • advisory report, with findings and recommendations pursuant to TCA §37-2-404(b) and including the date of the next review, to the judge with ten calendar days; or
    • direct referral to the judge or magistrate with findings and recommendations:
    • where conditions constituting a deterrent to reaching the permanency goals persist in a given case and such conditions indirectly and chronically compromise the health, safety or welfare of the child, to be heard by the judge or magistrate within thirty calendar days; or
    • where issues in a particular case constitute a risk of harm and directly compromise the health, safety or welfare of the child, to be heard by the judge or magistrate within seventy-two hours, excluding non-judicial days.
  • As to all reports and proceedings, the FCRB or DCS shall provide copies and notice, as applicable, to the child's parent(s) whose rights have not been terminated or surrendered, the parent's attorney, the guardian ad litem and/or attorney for the child, and the child who is a party to the proceeding.

Practice Notes:

When was the last time you, as an attorney or GAL, participated in a FCRB?

  • Rule 32(A) of the Rules of Juvenile Procedure sets forth expectations for attorneys and GALs in the permanency planning process (including Foster Care Review Board hearings and related proceedings), noting that “the child must be represented by a guardian ad litem, and the parent has a right to representation by an attorney throughout the permanency planning process.” Supreme Court Rule 40(c)(3) specifically references representation of “the child at…foster care review board hearings….The guardian ad litem should maintain contact with the child and be available for consultation with the child between hearings and reviews.”
  • Since FCRBs can make recommendations regarding major issues – like whether to pursue termination of parental rights (TPR) on a parent or return a child home – it is in the attorney’s and GAL’s interest (and the interest of his/her client) to participate – and utilize FCRBs.
  • Attorneys and GALs have a right to notice and the right to ask for a reset based on a conflict.
  • While TCA §37-2-404 and §37-2-406 dictate foster care reviews (FCRs) at certain time intervals, reviews can be sought more frequently.
  • While it is recognized that FCRBs operate differently from county to county, attorney and guardian ad litem involvement can support refinement of the FCRB process where needed. And well-functioning Boards can provide a valuable opportunity for the attorney or GAL to advocate for progress toward permanency or provision of services to his or her client.
  • If an attorney or guardian ad litem does not know who schedules the FCRB, s/he should contact DCS or the chair of the Board.
  • The Administrative Office of the Court’s Court Improvement Program (CIP) conducts regular training of FCRBs. You are invited to contact Leslie Kinkead of the CIP (leslie.kinkead@tncourts.gov) with examples of what’s working well or with suggestions for improvement of FCRBs. (You may also contact or copy newsletter editor Susan Mee at susanmee.tn@gmail.com if you wish.)

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Contributors to this story:  Leslie Kinkead , Susan Mee, and Rae Anne Seay