The problem of child maltreatment is complex. Understanding the scope and history of the District of Columbia’s Citizen Review Panel (DC-CRP) helps one to appreciate the significance of DC residents’ commitment for the protection of children. Our foundation is based on mandates of the Child Abuse and Prevention Treatment Act (CAPTA) to establish Citizen Review Panels for the purpose of monitoring and documentation of activities in the child welfare agency. DC-CRP legislative history began with PL15-341, the “Child in Need of Protection Amendment Act of 2004.” It was introduced in Council and assigned Bill No. 15-389 which was referred to the Committee on Judiciary and the Committee on Human Services. The Bill was adopted on first and second readings on December 7, 2004, and December 21, 2004, respectively. It was signed by the Mayor on January 19, 2005. It was assigned Act No. 15-758 and transmitted to both Houses of Congress for its review. D.C. Law 15-341 to establish the DC-CRP became effective on April 12, 2005.
The structure of DC-CRP consists of fifteen (15) panel members of which eight (8) are appointed by the Mayor and seven (7) are appointed by resolution of the DC City Council. Chairpersons are appointed by Mayor’s Office on Talents and Appointment (MOTA) to provide the overall leadership of the panel and the Vice-Chair is appointed by DC City Council Resolution. A Facilitator serves as the administrator for fiscal oversight, documentation of activities, website maintenance, and liaison to the (MOTA) and DC City Council. CRP chairpersons provide leadership to guide the efforts of the panel.
Each year, the CRP is required to submit an annual report summarizing the Panel’s activities and providing information on the District’s progress in implementing Panel recommendations.
A key responsibility of DC-CRP is to evaluate components of CFSA and to make policy recommendations for improvement in child welfare services. Research, public testimonies, and community forums are the strategies and focal points of CRP activities. Since 2012, various working group projects have focused on issues such as, (1) addressing the problem of excessive removal of children from families, (2) mandated reporter training needs, (3) transition of youth ageing out of foster care and evaluating in-home care services.
Our mission is to “evaluate the extent to which DC Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) and other local child protection system agencies are effectively discharging their child protection responsibilities.” In accordance with the requirements of CAPTA, under DC Code: § 4-1303.51 the District of Columbia Citizen Review Panel (DC-CRP) was established “to serve as an external, independent oversight body for the District's child welfare policies system, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of DC government agencies involved in child protection as well as neighborhood-based services provided by vendors.”