Citizen Review Panels (CRPs) are federally mandated mechanisms for citizen participation in child protection, through evaluation and public outreach. Each state is required to have at least one CRP. Volunteer panel members assess their state and local child protective services (CPS) agencies and collect public opinion on CPS policies and services. In South Carolina, there are three panels located in different geographic areas of the state. The Upstate Panel alternates meeting in Greenwood and Greenville counties; the Midlands Panel meets in Richland County; and the Lowcountry Panel meets in Charleston County. Panels review policies, procedures, and practices of the CPS system and make recommendations annually to the South Carolina Department of Social Services. These recommendations intend to help improve the CPS system and make a difference in the lives of children who are abused or neglected. Citizen Review Panels offer volunteers an effective way to share in the community’s responsibility to protect the children of South Carolina.
Pursuant to sections 106(c)(4)(A)(i) and (ii) of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), each Citizen Review Panel is charged with evaluating the extent to which the State is fulfilling its child protection responsibilities in accordance with its CAPTA State plan by: (1) examining the policies, procedures and practices of State and local child protection agencies, and (2) reviewing specific cases, where appropriate. In addition, consistent with section 106(c)(4)(A)(iii) of CAPTA, a Panel may examine other criteria that it considers important to ensure the protection of children, including the extent to which the State and local CPS system is coordinated with the Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance Programs of the Social Security Act. This provision also authorizes the Panels to review the child fatalities and near fatalities in the State.
In order to assess the impact of current procedures and practices upon children and families in the community and fulfill the above requirements, citizen review panels must provide for public outreach and comment (section 106(c)(4)(C) of CAPTA). Finally, each Panel must prepare an annual report that summarizes the activities of the Panel and makes recommendations to improve the CPS system at the State and local levels, and submit it to the State and the public (section 106(c)(6) of CAPTA).
Source/Date: ACYF-CB-PI-99-09 (6/2/99); updated 3/22/06
Legal and Related References: Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), as amended (42 U.S.C. 5101 et seq.) - section 106(c).
The primary purpose of the Citizen Review Panels is to assist state and local child protection systems to be more responsive to community needs and opportunities in providing child protection services through evaluation, public outreach, and advocacy. The South Carolina Panel:
- Evaluates the extent to which the South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) is effectively discharging its child protection responsibilities.
- Conducts public outreach and gathers public comment on current DSS procedures and practices involving child protection services.
- Advocates for relevant actions that would help improve the child protection services system in South Carolina.