Duties of the Citizen Review Panel
- Evaluate OCS compliance with federal and state laws, examine policies and procedures for patterns of problems, review cases with fatalities or near fatalities. The CRP shall evaluate the extent to which OCS is effectively discharging its child protection responsibilities under:
- the state plan submitted to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under 42 U.S.C. 5106a(b);
- child protection standards under federal and state laws; and
- any other criteria that the CRP considers important to ensuring the protection of children, including the level and efficiency of coordination of foster care and adoption programs in the state and a review of child fatalities and near fatalities.
- In carrying out the responsibilities listed above, the CRP shall examine the policies, procedures, and practices of OCS, and, where appropriate, evaluate specific cases of child abuse or neglect.
- Maintain confidentiality. A person attending a CRP meeting or a CRP member or CRP staff may not make any disclosure related to information obtained during a review by the CRP unless authorized. A violation is subject to a civil penalty of up to $2,500 for each violation.
- Conduct public outreach. The CRP shall conduct public outreach and gather public comment on current OCS procedures and practices involving children and family services. The Panel strives to conduct a site visit in each of the OCS regions every year (Northern, Anchorage, Southeast, South Central, and Western).
- Produce an annual report. The CRP shall prepare and make available to the governor, the legislature, and the public an annual report containing a summary of its activities and recommendations for the improvement of child protection services in the state.
- Meet at least every three months. The CRP must meet every three months, but it may meet telephonically
OCS Duties related to the CRP
The following duties assigned to the state’s Office of Childrens’ Services are related to the Citizens Review Panel:
- HSS support. The Commissioner shall, by regulation, establish policies and procedures necessary to carrying out the duties of the CRP.
- Cooperation with state panel. OCS shall provide the panel access to information on child abuse or neglect cases that is necessary for the CRP to carry out its duties.
- Report response. Not later than six months after the date on which the report is released, OCS shall submit a written response to the report. OCS’ response must include a description of whether and how it will incorporate the recommendations of the CRP, where appropriate.