3. Independent Review
The Independent Review Unit receives requests from foster parents when a foster care agency or ACS proposes the removal of a foster child or removes a foster child from a foster home. If the foster parent opposes the removal, after a placement preservation family team conference takes place, they are entitled to another conference (called an Independent Review), facilitated by a neutral party, where the agency presents the reasons for removal and the foster parent(s) can present their opposition to the removal. The Independent Review Unit conducts the conferences or directs the foster parent to the Office of Special Investigations for conferences where there is an active OSI investigation taking place involving the foster parent (related to safety issues in the foster home). The Independent Review Officer determines whether or not the removal is necessary and/or appropriate and sends all parties a copy of the written decision within five days of the conference. This decision must be implemented by the agency and ACS.
According to New York State regulations the child welfare agency must notify the foster family in writing of its intention to remove a child(ren) at least 10 days in advance by issuing a Notice of Removal (form CS 701D available for contract agencies on DocuShare via the ACS intranet). This notice also advises the foster parents of their right to request an Independent Review. In cases of emergency removals, the agency must give the Notice of Removal to the foster parents at the time of removal or it must be provided to them immediately after the removal.
The Independent Review Unit, now located within the ACS Division of Family Permanency Services, is staffed by social workers who function as Review Officers. To request an Independent Review, call the Independent Review Specialist at (212) 341-0734.