Juvenile Court seeks volunteers for judicial panels

Published 2:25 pm Monday, March 7, 2016

Crisp/Dooly — The Juvenile Court of Crisp and Dooly County in conjunction with the Council of Juvenile Court Judges is proud to announce the establishment of a Judicial Citizen Review Program to benefit the deprived children in foster care in Crisp and Dooly County.  This program is a wonderful opportunity for volunteerism which will directly impact the welfare of the children of Crisp and Dooly County.  It is a program designed to assist the Court in determining the most appropriate permanency plan for children in foster care.  After a 2-day training session by Council staff, the panel members are sworn in as Officers of the Court by Juvenile Judge Kristen W. Pack.  Panel members are then authorized to serve on the Judicial Citizens’ Review Panel and act in the best interest of the child(ren) in the case.
Citizen Review Panels are formed from a group of volunteer citizens in the community who work closely with the Department of Family and Children Services, parents, and children to review the case plan for the reunification of the family, if reunification is possible.  It is the ultimate goal in foster care cases to return children to their family as soon as possible.  However, if the Court finds that reunification is not in the child’s best interest, the Panel can recommend alternatives such as adoption, placement with a relative, independent living, or another planned living arrangement.
Meetings are usually scheduled once per month for about three hours and at a convenient location somewhere in the county.  In the meeting, the Panel as a group reviews a specific DFCS foster care case and discusses any problems that a child or children may be having along with possible resolutions for the troubles and stresses that a child is enduring which may be preventing the family from being a productive and functioning family unit.  Because Crisp and Dooly County are small rural communities, the resources available for treatment and help for children in certain situations are sometimes not obvious and clear.  With the life experiences, knowledge and connections of numerous volunteers, there is a vast array of solutions and suggestions that may be discovered and discussed as possibilities for the child and the family.  After the review is completed, the Panel makes a written recommendation to the Juvenile Court from the review findings.
Qualification and consideration of applicants for this program are beginning now and will continue for the next few weeks.  After a sufficient number of applications are received, a training session will be scheduled.  Panel member volunteers will have a two day training and instruction seminar, held locally, which must be completed along with completion of a criminal background check.  After training by the Council staff, the Panel Members become sworn officers of the Court who act in the best interest of the child.
A training session has been scheduled for Tuesday, March 15 and Wednesday, March 16, 2016 at the Crisp County Courthouse beginning at 9:00 a.m. and continuing until 4:00 p.m.
The program is instructed through the Council of Juvenile Court Judges, and the director of the program for Crisp and Dooly County is Allen Ellenberg.  If you would like more information about the program or want to apply to be a panel member, please contact Mr. Ellenberg at (229) 942-6333.  Any interested persons wanting to apply can also contact the Juvenile Court Office for the Cordele Judicial Circuit at (229) 271-4727.  To apply in person, the Juvenile Court office is located in the Crisp County Courthouse at 510 North 7th Street, Room 104, First Floor, Cordele, Georgia, and is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.