Theses Doctoral

Descriptive Study of New Jersey's System for External Foster Care Case Review

Murray, Louise

Effective October 1, 1978, New Jersey mandated independent review of all out-of-home placements supervised and approved for payment by the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). The law authorized each county's Superior Court Assignment Judges to appoint five-member Child Placement Review Boards who must make recommendations to the judge within 45 days of the child's entry into care; all cases must be reviewed at least annually.

Semi-structured telephone interviews with members of 36 Boards and 26 persons from DYFS some two years after review was implemented indicated that the Boards varied greatly in the degree to which they exercised their authority. Boards which assumed an independent role were more likely to (1) require DYFS workers to give testimony on all cases; (2) meet weekly; (3) review at least 12 cases at each meeting; (4) have contact with their judge; and (5) reschedule cases before the next mandated annual review. This latter practice, commonly known as "re-review" or "relist", probably did more to demonstrate the Boards' independent role than formal disagreements with DYFS. Formal disagreements were relatively infrequent, presumably because most children were in the only care arrangement possible. Re-review, on the other hand, recognized the impracticability of immediate return home or adoption but held DYFS accountable for taking timely action to ensure permanence for children.

The study described the various ways local DYFS offices prepared for review and local Board-DYFS relationships.

The impact of review was considered by eliciting respondents' assessments of review. All 36 Board respondents and all but four DYFS respondents felt that DYFS gave more careful attention to case planning because they knew they would have to report to an outside body. Fourteen Board respondents and 24 DYFS liaisons identified at least one disadvantage.

The study concludes with an endorsement for independent review and offers recommendations for strengthening it. The study recommends that further research be undertaken to more rigorously study the effects of review.


More About This Work

Academic Units
Social Work
Thesis Advisors
Fanshel, David
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 26, 2015