Child Welfare Agencies and Citizen Review Panel Collaboration

“Child Welfare Agencies and
Citizen Review Panel Collaboration:
The Difficult--but Necessary--Dance”
Blake L. Jones, MSW, Ph.D.
University of Kentucky
College of Social Work
ACF Region 4 CWCI Meeting
August 17, 2011
Atlanta, Georgia
Arnstein’s “Ladder of
Citizen Participation in Other Fields
Public Administration (Box, 1998; Denhardt &
Denhardt, 2000; King, Feltey, & Susel, 1998,
Thomas, 1995)
> Shift from “informing” citizens of government
projects to “involving” them (i.e., maximum
feasible participation)
> Mixed results (Big question for administrators
to answer: WHY are citizens being used?)
Environmental Issues (Peelle, et al., 1996)
“successful” citizen participation requires….
Agency clarity on goals and stakeholder roles in public participation
Top management commitment to the public participation process
Manager/leader goes beyond legal minimum
Agency responsiveness to stakeholders
Two-way communication and education
Adequate resources
Development of provisional trust between agency and public
Giving priority to trust building actions
Openness of the agency
Why is Citizen Participation in
Public Child Welfare Important?
It prevents the child welfare agency from
becoming a “system unto itself”
It moves us toward “community based”
protection of children (the BEST way!)
Citizen can be advocates for the agency
It educates citizens about what is really
happening with child abuse and neglect
It’s democracy in action….
An Auspicious Beginning?
“By allowing the Panels to have
complete access to child protection
cases, by requiring Panels to publicize
their findings, and by requiring states to
respond to criticisms and
recommendations of the Panels, the
Committee intends to subject states to
public criticism and political
repercussion if they fail to protect
~House report 104-081, p. 1
History of CRPs
Citizen Review Panels were
formed through a 1996
amendment to the Child Abuse
and Prevention Treatment Act
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
state CAPTA plan (basically
ANY child protective
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
are 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 quarterly
Examine policies and procedures and, where
appropriate, specific cases of both state and local
Maintain confidentiality
Prepare an annual report with activities and
Requirements from 2003 CAPTA
Evaluate PRACTICES as
well as policy and
Develop a means for
public comment
Child welfare agency is to
respond in writing to
annual report within six
NEW from CAPTA 2010 ReAuthorization
CRPs “may
include adult
former victims of
child abuse or
Directs Secretary
of HHS to
conduct a study
on the
effectiveness of
CRPs by 2012
Common Themes
CRP coordinated by someone
from state child welfare agency
Struggle with “diverse”
membership and involving “nonprofessionals”
Trouble in defining the “mission”
and outcomes of CRP
(“watchdog” vs. “advocate”)
Retention of members is difficult
Turnover in state agency (i.e.,
new administrations)
Difficulty in connecting with
Child and Family Services
A Selection of
CRP Successes Nationally
Minnesota CRPs have done research projects around
the issue of father involvement in case planning
Maine hosted a large statewide child welfare
conference in 2010, involving over 300 participants
South Carolina made the commitment to work with
their child welfare agency and hosted the 2011 national
Wyoming has formed a CRP on the Wind River Indian
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
disorders (NV)
Use a “risk simulator” similar to the ones used by police to
train social workers (KY)
Challenges to Collaboration
Citizens have trouble
understanding complexities
of state agencies (“Feel
like we’re treading water”)
Difficulty in choosing
evaluative topics of any
substance and value
CRPs get lost in the sea of
“citizen groups” who are
charged with evaluating
More obstacles…
Distrust from frontline workers
Overwhelming nature of NCANS, PIP,
CFSR, etc.
Time lag between when new initiatives are
launched and CRPs are informed (“we had
to read it in the paper…”)
Some members see Panels as a way to
“stick it to” the child protection system
Research tells us that Citizen Review Panels
generally do better when they are…
Given access to
Consulted EARLY in the
policy development
Given FEEDBACK about
their recommendations
Provided staff and other
logistical support
Are part of a thoughtful,
well-defined process rather
than a “feel good” exercise
What Makes a “Bad” CRP?
Unclear or conflicting goals
Poor leadership from
No follow through on
“axe grinders”
Lack of communication from
child welfare agency
“Policy overload”
Membership turnover (always
“starting from scratch”)
The Elements of Successful
Citizen Review Panels
A clear focus and strategic plan
A 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
What have we learned?
Clearly define roles of responsibilities of CRPs and
child welfare agency (this should be spelled out in
a Memo Of Agreement)
Give feedback to Panels about what happens to
their recommendations. If they are not feasible,
say so, and explain why
Create consistent “point persons” within the
agency to answer critical questions.
Have a way for members to cycle on and off the
What have we learned?
Work on team development (use cohesion scale
to assess)
Work with Chairperson to develop her or his
leadership abilities
Provide at least a part-time paid staff person (be
CREATIVE, sub-contract with a University to
coordinate CRPs)
Celebrate successes and improvements
Value citizenship
An Example of a
Successful CRP Topic
TOPIC: How frontline
Kentucky child welfare
workers are trained to
respond to “meth”
 KY CRP reviewed
policy, talked with
frontline workers and
supervisors, law
enforcement, first
 RESULT: Changes in
policy which made
workers and children
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.
Jones, B.L. & Royse, D. (2008)
Citizen review panels for child
protective services: A national profile.
Child Welfare, (87), 3, 143-162.
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.
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,
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., Litzelfelner, 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) 699-704.
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–
Litzelfelner, 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.
Practical Advice
Focus on building a trusting,
honest relationship with your
child welfare agency
Choose a work project that is
large and unmanageable
Become an integral part of the
Program Improvement Plan!!!!
Spend your time in meetings
“chasing rabbits”
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
Get a practicum student
Try to find a project that aligns
with the PIP!
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”
SMART Indicators for CRP
Time Limited
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
Washington, DC on April 15-17, 2012
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