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Leola McKenzie
CRB Director

Salem Office
OJD Citizen Review Board
1163 State Street
1133 Chemeketa Street NE
Salem, OR 97301

Phone: 503.986.5861
Fax: 503.986.5859
Toll Free: 1-888-530-8999
Oregon Relay Service-711

Portland Office
OJD Citizen Review Board
541 NE 20th Avenue, #107
Portland, OR 97232
Phone: 503.731.3007
Fax: 503.731.3442

Business Hours
8 am to 5 pm Monday - Friday

Our Reviews

Policy Underlying Oregon's Child Abuse and Neglect Law

For all their complexity and nuance, Oregon's laws on child abuse and neglect follow a simple principle:

Children need safe, healthy, permanent homes as early as possible with as few transitions as possible.

The longer children are in foster care, the more likely they will move from home to home and risk:

  • attachment and other emotional disorders
  • dropping out of school
  • delinquent behavior
  • teen pregnancy
  • substance abuse
  • homelessness
  • repeating the cycle of abuse and neglect when they become parents

Growing awareness of the link between those outcomes and "foster care drift" led Oregon to adopt landmark legislation in 1997 to reform how the state handles child abuse and neglect cases. Known as the "Best Interests of the Child" bill, Senate Bill 689 introduced 3 concepts:

  • Timelines
    The court must hold an early "jurisdictional" hearing in each case and has a limited time to determine whether the child's best interests require the state to continue efforts to reunify the family or implement a concurrent "permanency" plan to provide the child a safe, permanent home.
  • Mutual Accountability While parents are accountable for efforts to reunify their family, so is the state's Department of Human Services (DHS). DHS' efforts influence when the court can approve the discontinuation of reunification services.
  • "Reasonable Time"
    Reunification efforts depend on the child's developmental needs and ability to form attachments, not on the issues of concern the parent(s) have to overcome. If the parent's recovery is slow and it puts the child's development or ability to form attachments at serious risk, the court will require DHS to implement a concurrent plan.

About the same time that Oregon adopted Senate Bill 689, Congress passed the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA), requiring all states to comply with new federal standards. Those standards echoed the ones Oregon had adopted. In 1999, Oregon updated its law to conform to federal requirements.

The flowchart and timeline show how Oregon meets those standards in dependency (child abuse and neglect) cases. At each decision point, the court or Citizen Review Board asks, "Will this decision at this time ensure that this child has a safe, permanent home in a reasonable time?"

Ensuring that an abused or neglected child has a safe, permanent home does not necessarily require terminating a parent's rights, even when a child cannot return to the parent safely in a reasonable time. Permanency plans often include intermediate placements that do not separate the child and parent permanently but provide the child safe access to the birth family. Alternatives include guardianship, permanent guardianship, custody arrangements, permanent foster care, and other planned, permanent living arrangements.



Case Reviews — Dependency - Child Abuse and Neglect

Local Citizen Review Boards review cases every 6 months for each child in substitute care under the custody of the Department of Human Services (DHS). The board reviews both the court records and the agency records involving the child. A case notes sheet helps volunteer  board members prepare for the review.

The board may require the DHS worker to appear in person and may require other DHS staff to attend as well. Parents and their attorneys, foster parents, mature children and their attorneys may attend; the board may also permit others to attend. Each participant other than the parents and children must swear or affirm to keep information disclosed to them by the board confidential. The reviews are not open to the public.

The review board must prepare a written report that addresses:
whether efforts to avoid placing the child outside the family, to reunite the family, or to achieve permanency were reasonable

  • the child's health and safety, the need for continued substitute care, and appropriate placement
  • compliance with the case plan and progress toward returning the child home
  • tentative date for the child to return home or be available for adoption or legal guardianship
  • whether the court should appoint a special advocate
  • any other problems, solutions, or alternatives the board recommends should be explored.

The board sends its findings and recommendations to the court, DHS, and other participants in the review. DHS must implement the board's recommendations or, within 17 days of receiving the recommendations, give the board written notice if DHS does not intend to implement the recommendations.

The court also reviews the findings and recommendations; it may choose to set a court hearing to review them with the parties. The court must give written notice to the  board if the court changes the recommendations or takes action on the case as a result of the board's recommendations. 

The board's recommendations become part of the court's case file and part of the DHS case file.


6-Month Reviews (see E on the Flowchart and Timeline)

The first CRB review at 6 months after the child was removed from the home ("placement") considers:

  • identification of legal parents and petition's allegations as to each
  • aggravated circumstances
  • Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA)
  • family decision making meeting
  • service agreement or letter of expectation
  • efforts to locate relative
  • most appropriate, least restrictive placement
  • child's medical/mental health needs
  • child's education needs
  • written visitation plan with each parent and siblings
  • DHS and parent compliance with case plan/court order
  • parent agreement with permanency goal
  • progress to alleviate need for placement


12-Month Reviews (see F on the Flowchart and Timeline)

The CRB review at 12 months after placement considers the following:

In all cases

  • 15 of 22 months determination - file or join petition to terminate parent rights (TPR) unless
    • child is placed with relative; placement intended to be permanent
    • a compelling reason exists not to file
      • parent is working on a plan to reunite
      • another plan is in the child's best interest
      • other compelling reason
    • DHS has not provided the services that the case plan requires

If the goal is to return to the parent

  • DHS and party recommendations to the court at the upcoming permanency hearing - is it time for the child to return home should a new plan be implemented
  • if parent needs more time, the specific services and specific period required for parent and child to reunite
  • safety plan for the placement and for return home

If the goal is adoption

  • timeline and specific steps needed to complete the adoption
  • safety needs

If the goal is guardianship

  • safety needs
  • legal steps necessary to complete the guardianship
  • financial status explained to potential guardians

If the goal is Planned Permanent Living Arrangement - permanent foster care
  • written agreement between DHS and substitute-care provider
  • court order endorsing the placement, naming the provider
  • safety needs met
  • health, education, and treatment needs

If the goal is Planned Permanent Living Arrangement -emancipation

  • independent living assessment
  • referral to independent-living services
  • written independent-living plan and service progress
  • safety needs
  • health, education, and treatment needs

If the goal is Other -planned permanent living arrangement

  • all steps to permanency outlined, other goals specifically ruled out
  • high level of service to the child
  • health, education, and treatment needs


Guardianship Reviews

Local Citizen Review Boards review guardianships when ordered to do so by the court of jurisdiction. 

The purpose of the guardianship review is to determine compliance with the guardianship court order and whether the best interest of the child is being met.  Boards may review the following:
  • the child's physical, mental health, and educational status
  • the child's attachments and family relationships
  • the child's wishes in regard to the guardianship
  • the willingness and suitability of the guardian
  • the willingness and ability of the parent to provide adequate care for the child

Upon conclusion of the review Citizen Review Boards forward a report with their findings and recommendations to the local juvenile court judge