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In 1996, Congress amended the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). This required each state to establish at least three citizen review panels in order to receive Child Abuse and Neglect State Grants Program funding. In Minnesota, panels have been established in Chisago, Ramsey, Winona, and Washington Counties. The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) plans to expand citizen review panels throughout the state.
Working together for children’s well-being
Citizen review panels provide opportunities for community members to play an integral role in ensuring the child protection system is protecting children from abuse and neglect and helping find permanent homes for them. While the panels are required to review the state’s CAPTA plan, they also evaluate different aspects of the child protection system in their own communities. Made up of 11 to 16 citizens each, these panels represent a partnership among:
Serving multiple purposes
To ensure the state’s child protection system is working well, citizen review panels:
Serving on citizen review panels
Panel members listen well, work as part of a team, are sensitive to diversity, maintain confidentiality, participate in training, and serve a two-year term. These community volunteers, appointed by the DHS commissioner and county commissioners, participate in training in:
Working to strengthen the child protection system
Panel members are responsible for giving their outside perspective on the internal workings of the child protection system. To accomplish this, panels:
New panel members are encouraged to view this orientation (PDF). This PowerPoint presentation provides detailed information about panels and their effective functioning.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services plans to expand Citizen Review Panels, on a voluntary basis, in counties throughout the state. Of special interest to county child-protection workers and community leaders, DHS has prepared Guidelines (PDF) on ways to invite citizen participation and encourage community investment in the protection of children.
Or to learn more, contact the DHS citizen review panels expert by e-mail at Dhs.Child.Safety-Permanency@state.mn.us or call 651-431-4660.
2012 Minnesota Citizen Panel Annual Report (PDF)
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