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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, Hennepin, Ramsey, Winona, and Washington counties. The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) plans to expand citizen review panels throughout the state.
Working together for childrens 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. Panel members review and evaluate various aspects of the state child protection system, and also those in their communities. Comprised of 11 to 16 citizens each, these panels represent a partnership among:
Serving multiple purposes
To ensure the states child protection system is working well, citizen review panels:
Serving on citizen review panels
Panel members carefully listen to parents and those who work in the child protection system and, work as a team, are sensitive to diversity, maintain confidentiality, and serve an initial two-year term. These community volunteers, appointed by the DHS commissioner and county commissioners, also participate in training regarding:
Strengthening the child protection system
Panel members are responsible for providing their outside perspective on the internal workings of the child protection system. To accomplish this, panel members:
Online new panel member orientation PowerPoint
New panel members are encouraged to view the new panel member orientation (PDF). This PowerPoint presentation provides detailed information about panels and how they function.
Guidelines for staff who work with Citizen Review Panels
The Minnesota Department of Human Services would like to expand citizen review panels, on a voluntary basis, in counties and tribes, throughout the state. Of special interest to county and tribal 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.