Citizen Review Panels (CRP) enable public participation in child protection policy and practice. CRPs were developed in response to a requirement set forth in the 1996 reauthoriza¬tion for the Child Abuse and Prevention Treatment Act (CAPTA), section 106 (c). As stated by Congressman Gooding (R-PA), CRPs “provide new opportunities for citizens—not just child protection bureaucrats—to play an integral role in ensuring that States are meeting their goals of protecting children from abuse and neglect.” There are more than 340 CRPs across the nation, with at least one in each state, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. CRPs are expected to assist their respective state and local CPS systems to be more responsive to community needs through review of child protection policy, practice, and procedures; extensive public outreach; and advocacy.
CRPs provide a unique opportunity for public participation in addressing child welfare, with evaluation and outreach as their primary functions.
A successful CRP enterprise requires deep and committed relationships with its CPS agency—one that facilitates prolonged and effective collaboration. Evidence from across the country shows that this relationship is among the most daunting challenges for a CRP. Despite hard work to improve their relationships through formal agreements, mutual recognition events, deeper involvement with each other, and recognizing the common goals they share, CRPs and the CPS agencies often find themselves pursuing different paths.
The 2017 National CRP Conference will provide an opportunity to explore various challenges and opportunities to find common ground and foster constructive CRP-CPS relationships. The conference theme, Common Goals, Many Paths, is a recognition that shared goals may not always mean shared understanding of those goals, and that collaborative relationship and constructive dialogue helps in finding common ground.
Conference sessions will be organized into the following four areas:
- Structure: CRPs are mechanisms for public participation through review and outreach. Designing an effective CRP can be quite challenging due to: (1) diverse perspectives or objectives; (2) differences in sense of time or urgency of an issue; or (3) other structural and operational factors. Outreach to all stakeholders can be a very extensive process. This track explores various models of citizen participation in government relevant to the CRP enterprise—either review, outreach, or both--by volunteer citizens in collaboration with a government agency.
- Process: CRP’s broad mandate requires multiple channels of collaboration between the CRP and the CPS agency, at various levels – goal setting, sharing information, understanding the context of practice, identifying gaps, and crafting recommendations. This track explores various ways citizen groups may collaborate with CPS agencies or other government agencies at various stages.
- Accountability: Accountability is fundamental to any relationship. Mechanisms to enforce mutual accountability at various levels are key to a long-term collaborative relationship. Identifying and clarifying mutual roles of citizens (or citizen groups) and government agencies, specifying mutual responsibilities, and providing respectful but effective mutual oversight are some of the key elements in ensuring mutual accountability. This track explores ways that citizen participation exercises and citizen review exercises can ensure mutual accountability.
- Child welfare topics: While CRPs review CPS agencies, there are many related topics of which they should be aware and have a working knowledge. These sessions provide the opportunity to learn about other topics such as trauma, family engagement, substance abuse, and child fatalities, etc.