Recent Publications

Exploring the university partnership model for child welfare citizen review panels: A research brief.

Children and Youth Services Review

Miller, J.J., Collins-Camargo, C. & Jones, B.L. (2017).

Child Welfare Citizen Review Panels (CRPs) are groups of citizen volunteers authorized by Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA; P.L. 104-235) to examine practices of public child welfare agencies. Increasingly, state CRP groups are engaging in university-community partnerships to assist in meeting CAPTA mandates. Despite this trend, there are no published studies that examine this practice.

This research brief examines group differences between CRP members of university and non-university affiliated panels, respectively. Factors of interest included CRP Knowledge, Member Satisfaction, Member Engagement, Personal Influence, Perceived CRP Impact on Child Welfare System, CRP Member Dynamics, and Meeting Format. Results indicate that respondents perceived themselves to be no more knowledgeable or engaged in their panels and expressed no greater confidence in the potential impact of CRPs on the child welfare system, whether affiliated with a university or not. After a brief review of literature, this brief will explicate findings derived from this study and discuss salient implications and areas for future research.

Reflections on citizen-state child welfare partnerships: Listening to citizen review panel volunteers and agency liaisons.

Children and Youth Services Review

Bryan, V., Collins-Camargo, C., & Jones, B. (2011).

Previous research pertaining to the citizen review panel (CRP) initiative indicates that discrepancies exist between panel member and state agency liaison perceptions of CRP effectiveness in fulfilling the CAPTA CRP mandate. This study explores the impressions of both CRP members and liaisons involving barriers to effective CRP–state child welfare partnerships and recommendations to improve the relationship, provided through narrative survey responses from CRP liaisons from 30 states and D.C. and panel members from 32 states and D.C. Thematic categories which emerged from analyses of these responses are discussed, and a conceptual model and substantive-level theory of the CRP–child protective services (CPS) relationship developed from the results are presented.

Key features of effective citizen–state child welfare partnerships: Findings from a national study of citizen review panels.

Children and Youth Services Review

Bryan, V., Jones, B.L. & Lawson. (2010).

Abstract:This study reports findings from a national study of citizen review panels (CRPs) for child protective services, examining the relationships between previously identified panel characteristics (including information flow between CRPs and states, group cohesion and panel self-governance) and perceptions of CRP effectiveness.

Citizen review panels for child protective services: A national profile.

Child Welfare

Jones, B.L. & Royse, D. (2008).

Citizen Review Panels (CRPs) for Child Protective Services are groups of citizen-volunteers throughout the United States who are federally mandated to evaluate local and state child protection systems. This study presents a profile of 332 CRP members in 20 states with regards to their demographic information, length of time on the panel, and attitudes regarding the variables that promote and hinder collaboration between the panels and state child welfare agencies. Results indicate that the average review panel member tends to be a professional, middle-aged female with an advanced degree. Better communication (between child protective services and the CRPs) and clearer goals/objectives for CRPs were the most cited suggestions of how CRPs and child welfare agencies can work together. Lack of funding and the defensiveness of the child welfare agency were seen as the top obstacles to such collaboration. Policy implications and avenues of further study are discussed.

The value and role of Citizen Review Panels in child welfare: perceptions of citizens review panel members and child protection workers.

Child Abuse & Neglect

Jones, Litzelfelner, P., & Ford, J. (2003).

There is little question that most child welfare systems throughout the United States remain in crisis. Numerous scholars have recommended that the child welfare system might be improved by actively involving citizens and community groups (Black, 1983; Schorr, 2000; Waldfogel, 1998, 2000; Williams-Mbengue & Ramirez-Fry, 1999). As Schorr (2000) states:

… although citizens sporadically become engaged with, not to say infuriated at, child welfare agencies, in the last decades there has been remarkably little regular week-to-week engagement by lay people. . . Perhaps child welfare administrators or the officials to whom they report are too busy or too defensive to engage lay people in a true partnership. It is a mistake. Lay people need to be drawn in—given authority and candid information—if child welfare is not to be isolated in the face of what is coming (p. 130).

Federal legislation recognizes the importance of citizen input into the child welfare system as is evident in the 1996 amendment to the Child Abuse and Treatment Act (CAPTA). The amendment called for the implementation of at least three Citizens Review Panels (CRPs) in each state by July 1999 (Administration for Children and Families, 1998). According to the amendment, Citizen Review Panels were to be made up of a representative sample of the community, meet at least once every 3 months, and submit an annual report to the federal government outlining their activities and recommendations (Administration for Children and Families, 1998). There is also a directive that child protection agencies be cooperative in providing needed information and technical assistance to the panels (Kot, Burner, & Scott, 1998). The legislation provided the panels with a broad mandate:

  1. To insure that the State was in compliance with the state CAPTA plan.
  2. To assure that the State was coordinating with the Title IV-E foster care and adoption programs.
  3. To assess the CPS agency in its compliance with the review of child fatalities.
  4. To evaluate any other piece of the CPS system which the Panel deemed important.

Currently, most states have enacted some form of Citizen Review Panels in child protection. But, since Citizen Review Panels in child protection are new, the roles and responsibilities of these panels and their implementation are extraordinarily varied. The current study is a first attempt to understand the benefit and role of these panels as perceived by panel members and child protection workers.

Effectiveness of citizen review panels.

Children and Youth Services Review

Jones. (2004).

In 1996, the U.S. congress passed legislation mandating citizen review panels (CRP) for child protective services in all states. These panels are composed of citizen-volunteers who are charged with evaluating state child welfare systems and making suggestions for improvement. Although millions of federal dollars are being used to fund these panels, no research has been conducted as to what aspects of the review process are viewed by participants in CRPs as being most effective in influencing policy. This study reports the findings of a survey relative to variables that contributed to the effectiveness of citizen review panels in a 10-state area in the Midwest and South. The findings suggest that the perceived effectiveness of panels in influencing policy is related to increased communication, an awareness of roles and limitations, legitimate collaboration, and realistic goals. Factors that impede effectiveness include lack of trust, time constraints, unclear roles, and weak communication.