Citizen Review Panels: History, Research, Best Practices an

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Blake L. Jones, MSW, LCSW, Ph.D.. University of Kentucky. College of Social Work. A little bit about me. I am a …. Father and Husband. Professor/Researcher. Clinician. Program Coordinator. Musician . ID: 466941 Download Presentation

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Citizen Review Panels: History, Research, Best Practices an

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Citizen Review Panels: History, Research, Best Practices and Practical Advice

Blake L. Jones, MSW, LCSW, Ph.D.

University of Kentucky

College of Social Work


A little bit about me

I am a …Father and HusbandProfessor/ResearcherClinicianProgram CoordinatorMusician Son, Grandson, and Great Grandson of MusiciansBeliever in the power of community service


“Never doubt that a small, dedicated group of citizens can make a difference. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has…” ~ Margaret Mead


“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”  ~Anne Frank



can be great.  Because anybody can serve.  You don't have to have a college degree to serve. 


don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve.... You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. 


only need a heart full of grace.  A soul generated by love



~Martin Luther King, Jr.


“This whole damn citizen review thing is a joke! They (child protective services) don’t really want to hear what we want to say. We are just puppets to make them look good!” ~survey respondent


“ Those people (Citizen Review Panel members) need to get a clue. They don’t know the first thing about what we do, but they want to judge us. They should just mind their own business!”

~ Child Welfare Administrator


“The idea of citizen participation is a little like eating spinach — no one is against it because it is good for you.” ~Sherry Arnstein


What I want to Accomplish this Session

History of Citizen Review PanelsDescribe National CRP CommunityDiscuss research on CRPsGive Practical Advice about How to Make the Process Work


Why is Citizen Participation Important?


prevents an agency from becoming


“system unto itself”

It moves us toward

“community based”


Citizen can be


for the agency

It educates



what is really happening





in action….


Challenges to Collaboration

Citizens have trouble understanding complexities of state agencies (“Feel like we’re treading water”) Distrust from frontline workers and administrators Time lag between when new initiatives are launched and citizens are informed (“we had to read it in the paper…”) Some members see Panels as a way to “stick it to” the system


“The Toad and the Kangaroo”Shel Silverstein


A failure to communicate?

Administrators often speak the language of:Budget stressPolitics“Circle the Wagons”“We know best”Incremental change

Citizen groups speak the language of:

Personal passion

Personal experience

“We want change NOW!”

“Coalitions are best”

Ready to use public shame if necessary


Building a Trusting Relationship with the Child Welfare Agency: “The Iphone and the Toy Box”


Citizen Review Panels for Child Protective Services

Citizen Review Panels were formed through a 1996 amendment to the Child Abuse and Prevention Treatment Act (CAPTA)3 panels per state by July, 1999 (some only needed one)Each panel has the responsibility to review compliance of state and local CPS agencies with respect to:state CAPTA plan (basically ANY child protective services)Other criteria the panel considers important, which may include coordination with foster care and adoption programs and review of child fatalities and near fatalities


Requirements for Citizen Review Panels

Composed of volunteer members that


broadly representative

of the community in which they are operating

include individuals with

expertise in the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect

Meet at least



policies and procedures

and, where appropriate,

specific cases

of both state and local agencies



Prepare an

annual report with activities and recommendations


More Requirements

Evaluate PRACTICES as well as policy and procedureDevelop a means for public commentChild welfare agency is to respond in writing to annual report within six months**May include former victims of child abuse and neglect


Common Themes

CRP coordinated by someone from state child welfare agencyStruggle with “diverse” membership and involving “non-professionals”Trouble in defining the “mission” and outcomes of CRP (“watchdog” vs. “advocate”)Retention of members is difficultTurnover in state agency (i.e., new administrations)Difficulty in connecting with Child and Family Services Review


Panels Can Examine Any of the Following Parts of the CPS System

Intake and initial screeningInvestigation and/or assessmentCase determinationService planning, implementation, and monitoring

Case closure

Crisis intervention; Emergency placement; Family stabilization

Coordination of services

Staff qualifications, training and workload


HOW can a Panel Review these Things?

In-depth review of a small number of cases**Broader review of casesAnalysis of statewide data systemsReview of agency policy and proceduresTargeted Surveys

Quality assurance reviews

Community forums

Focus groups or interviews of staff, consumers, service providers, mandated reporters, foster parents, others


Models of Citizen Review Panels Nationally

“Started from Scratch” in 1999 (KY, TN, MN,AK)Use of existing Boards (ID, FL, NC, AL, CO). This is COMMON. Boards used are Child Fatality, Foster Care Review, Children’s Justice Act, CPS Advisory Committees. Usually cover statewide issues.Panels created through state legislation (NY, WY)


Total of 348 CRPs in 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico30 states provide staff assistance and 36 states provide financial assistanceNO states reviewed the state’s CAPTA PlanOnly 33 states provided a written response to the work of the Panels

A Snap Shot of CRPS Nationally


Report to Congress on Effectiveness of Citizen Review

Panels (2013)


Six states (19 percent) indicated that they had implemented or were planning to implement in the future 75 to 100 percent of the recommendations.12 states (37.5 percent) noted that they had implemented or would implement in the future 50 to 74 percent of the panels’ recommendations.Six states (19 percent) wrote that they had implemented or were planning to implement 25 to 49 percent of the recommendations.Eight states (25 percent) reported that they had implemented or were planning to implement 0 to 24 percent of the recommendations. 13 of the 32 states (in response to 26 recommendations) indicated that they would need to evaluate recommendations before a decision could be made about implementation

Response to Recommendations


Research tells us that Citizen Review Panels generally do better when they are…

Given access to informationConsulted EARLY in the policy development processGiven FEEDBACK about their recommendationsProvided staff and other logistical supportPart of a thoughtful, well-defined process rather than a “feel good” exercise


Examples of CRP Interests Nationally

Relationship between CPS and foster parents (and how they are trained)Mandated reporters and how they are trainedCaseloads of frontline workersRacial Disparity in Out of Home CareThe use of kinship care in out of home care

Training of CPS workers cases involving meth

School system response to child abuse reporting

Review of the system tracking fatalities and near fatalities

Relationship of CPS and the court system

Trauma Informed Care


Examples of Recommendations Made Nationally

Child welfare agency should implement an online mandated reporter training (GA)

Develop a brochure to be given to families who are chosen as “kinship care” (SC)

The Child Welfare Agency and the Department of Education should develop a joint training on child abuse to be given to teachers and other school personnel (NJ)

CPS caseworkers should receive additional training on identifying child and family needs related to mental health disorders, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse



Use a “risk simulator” similar to the ones used by police to train social workers (KY)


What Makes a “Bad” CRP?

Unclear or conflicting goalsPoor leadership from chairpersonNo follow through on commitments “axe grinders”Lack of communication from child welfare agencyMembership turnover (always “starting from scratch”)


The Elements of Successful Citizen Review Panels

A clear focus and strategic plan


trusting relationship

with the child welfare system

Ability to view the “big picture” of incremental change within large bureaucracies

Staff and other logistical support

Ability to engage in ongoing dialogue (

this is more than “trading reports”)

Ability to connect with other child advocates in the state

Meetings which are productive and move the group toward a common goal


An Example of a Successful CRP Topic

TOPIC: How frontline Kentucky child welfare workers are trained to respond to “meth” casesKY CRP reviewed policy, talked with frontline workers and supervisors, law enforcement, first respondersRESULT: Changes in policy which made workers and children safer


The Importance of Strategic Planning

The CAPTA law is large and vague, leading to confusion and discouragementCRPs should evaluate topics with “depth” rather than being “a mile wide and an inch deep”Try to choose topics that are important to your state agency (remember communication?)As one CRP member said, “Why do I need to volunteer my valuable time if all we do is show up and tear down CPS?”


Are your topic areas SMART?

SpecificMeasurableAchievableRealisticTime Limited


A word about having a good meeting

Make sure everyone comes away from the meeting feeling it was PRODUCTIVE, or people will NOT COME BACKGet agenda and minutes to members before the meetingMake sure ALL members are heard (aka, beware the “blowhard”)Have time each meeting for working teams to touch base on their work, and give a reportInvite frontline workers, legislators, foster parents, etc. to your meetings


How to Write a Good Recommendation

A Caveat: CRPs are part of a


picture of system change (don’t usually recommend changes which have not already been considered by someone)

Consider making “observations” instead of “recommendations”

Don’t make too many recommendations

Make sure recommendations contain the following elements:


Recommendations should be…

Based on the work of the Panel (not someone’s opinion or personal agenda)Linked to some form of evaluation (surveys, policy review, focus groups, etc.)Something which is SPECIFIC (i.e., related to specific policy changes if possible) Something that is feasible within the context of a bureaucracy and that Child Welfare can change


Recruiting New Members

Who is MISSING from your group?Think about what agencies often interact with child welfareDevelop a PLAN for recruitment (press releases, targeted letters, guest speaking at community groups, church bulletins, etc.)Remember WHY people volunteer: to make a difference. Don’t waste their time


Practical Advice

Do…..Focus on building a trusting, honest relationship with your child welfare agencyBecome an integral part of the Program Improvement Plan!!!!Do a “project” during the year (i.e., host a conference, do a community service project, do something for frontline workers)Develop a mechanism whereby you follow your recommendations over the yearsGet a practicum student


Choose a work project that is large and unmanageable

Spend your time in meetings “chasing rabbits”

Neglect the health of your group

Be afraid to ask for what you need, but….

Don’t get overly defensive if the answer is “no”


The national scene…

University of Kentucky is the organizing “hub” for Citizen Review Panels

National Citizen Review Panel Virtual Community (


* Annual Reports

* Training Materials

* Sign up for Listserv

* Information from Annual Reports

* Articles, Tip Sheets

National CRP Conference will be held in Atlanta,

May 19-21, 2014


Selected References

Bryan, V., Collins-Camargo, C., & Jones, B. (2011). Reflections on citizen-state child welfare partnerships: Listening to citizen review panel volunteers and agency liaisons. Children and Youth Services Review, 32, 1, 986-1010.Bryan, V., Jones, B.L. & Lawson. (2010). Key features of effective citizen–state child welfare partnerships: Findings from a national study of citizen review panels. Children and Youth Services Review, 32, 4, 595-603.Collins-Camargo, C., Jones, B.L, & Krusich, S. (2009). The “Spinach” of Citizen Participation in Public Child Welfare: Strategies for Involving Citizens in Public Child Welfare. Journal of Public Child Welfare, 3, 287-304.Jones, B.L. & Royse, D. (2008) Citizen review panels: The connection between training and perceived effectiveness. Child Abuse & Neglect: The International Journal) 32, 1-2.Bryan, V., Jones, B.L., Allen, E. & Collins-Camargo, C. (2007) Child and Youth Services Review Civic Engagement or Token Participation? Perceived Impact of the Citizen Review Panel Initiative in Kentucky. 29, 1286–1300

Jones, B.L. & Royse, D. (2008) Citizen review panels for child protective services: A national profile. Child Welfare, (87), 3, 143-162.

Jones, B. L. (2004) Variables Impacting the Effectiveness of Citizens Review Panels For Child Protective Services: A Multi-state Study.

Children and Youth Services Review

, (26) 12, 1117-1127.

Jones, B.L.,


, P. & Ford, J.P. (2003) Making a Change or Making a Report: Change Perceptions of Citizens Review Panel Members and Child Protective Workers.

Child Abuse & Neglect: The International Journal., (27)



, P., Collins-Camargo, C. & Jones, B. L. (2003) Models for Involving Citizens in the Child Welfare System in Kentucky: An Overview.

Kentucky Children’s Rights Journal.,

Spring, 2003.


“Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see”. ~John W. Whitehead, “The Stealing of America”


SWOT Analysis




Strengths: attributes of the organization that are helpful to achieving the objective. Example: You have a BUDGET, you are written into state law, stable membership



Weaknesses: attributes of the organization that are harmful to achieving the objective. Examples: unstable membership, budget problems, poor leadership, goals are at cross purposes with agency



Opportunities: external conditions that are helpful to achieving the objective. Examples: Your state is getting ready to undergo its Child and Family Services Review



Threats: external conditions that are harmful to achieving the objective. Examples: State budget crises, adversarial relationship with child welfare agency


What are the ways you can…


on Strengths






against Threats






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