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Volunteer to help children deeply in need of help…

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In Oregon, approximately 13,000 children per year spend at least one day in foster care due to child abuse and neglect. According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the estimated average lifetime costs for each neglected or abused child is $210,012. This includes increased costs in health care, child welfare costs, special education costs, and criminal justice costs. Consider these numbers: one quarter of those who stay in foster care for at least a year will have a lasting or recurring health problem.

Of youth who age out of foster care without a permanent home, one in five will become homeless within the first several years of leaving foster care, one in four will suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and all will be less likely to complete high school and college. Finally, children who are abused and neglected are 11 times more likely to be arrested for criminal behavior before the age of 18, 2.7 times more likely to be arrested for criminal behavior as an adult and 3.1 times more likely to commit violent crimes.

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An estimated one-third of abused and neglected children will eventually victimize their own children. According to the CDC, the total lifetime costs associated with just one year of confirmed cases of child maltreatment in the United States is $124 billion.

Spring, the season of new beginnings, is the perfect time to reflect on how we each can contribute to the solution of this community problem. The Citizen Review Board (CRB) is a program of the Oregon Judicial Department, which establishes local boards in counties throughout the state and is tasked with reviewing cases of children in foster care. We are community volunteers appointed by the Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court. We provide a citizen voice into how services are delivered and permanency decisions are made. Currently, 67 boards in Oregon review confidential case plans, hear from attorneys, caseworkers, parents, foster parents and foster children about how the case is progressing, and make recommendations to the juvenile court judge on how to achieve permanency for each child.

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While the circumstances that lead to foster care are varied, all foster children share a common thread: a trusted parent has let them down. It’s up to us as a community to fill that void by serving as foster parents, mentors, and supporting community services that help end the cycle of abuse and neglect.

For those who have a special interest in learning more about the foster care system, who want to be part of a community who is making a difference, and who want to have their voice heard, consider service on the Citizen Review Board. The Lincoln County Citizen Review Board is actively recruiting for new volunteer board members. In 2012, the Linn County Citizen Review Boards heard 94 cases involving 125 children in foster care, and the number is rising. If you would be interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities with the Citizen Review Board of Lincoln County, please contact the CRB.

Submitted by:

Amy Benedum, Field Manager for Linn, Benton, and Lincoln Counties
Contact the CRB: 1.888.530.8999

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