In 1996, the U.S. Congress amended the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). With this amendment to CAPTA, (Public Law 104-235), Congress required that states establish Citizen Review Panels, in order to receive funding for the Child Abuse and Neglect State Grants Programs. Citizen review panels are directed to evaluate state child welfare agencies and make recommendations for improvement in child protective services
(U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1998).
On November 9, 2006, House Bill 2670 was signed into law as Act 146 by Governor Edward G. Rendell. Act 146 required the Department of Public Welfare to establish citizen review panels and amended Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services Law (CPSL). Act 146 broadly states the Citizen Review Panels’ functions and activities as:
Examining policies, procedures and practices of State and local agencies and where appropriate, specific cases to evaluate the extent to which State and local child protective services system agencies are effectively discharging their child protection responsibilities under 106 (b) of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (Public Law 93-247, 42 U.S.C. § 5106 a (b)).
Evaluating and monitoring the extent to which the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare is fulfilling its child protection responsibilities in accordance with its Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) Five-Year Plan, as required by CAPTA.
Meeting at least quarterly and must make available to the public an annual report of their recommendations and summary of activities.
Providing for public outreach and comment to assess the impact of child welfare procedures and policies upon children and families in the community.
Pennsylvania’s citizen review process is a collaborative effort of The Department of Public Welfare, The Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center, and Pennsylvania Children & Youth Administrators Association. Pennsylvania’s regional citizen review panels will provide opportunities for members of the community to play an integral role in ensuring that Child Protection Service Systems are protecting children from abuse and neglect and are meeting the permanency needs of children.
Administration for Children & Families: CAPTA Manual
Administration for Children & Families:
Program Instructions for Functions of Each Citizen Review Panel
Department of Public Welfare
National Citizen Review Panel Virtual Community
National Resource Center for Child Protective Services