According to the 1996 amendments made to the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (“CAPTA”), each State receiving CAPTA funds must establish a Citizen Review Panel. 42 U.S.C. § 5106a(b)(2)(A)(xiv). In 2004, the Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families designated CPAC as Delaware’s Citizen Review Panel. Forty-two U.S.C. § 5106a(c)(4)(A) mandates that as the Citizen Review Panel, CPAC shall, by examining the policies, procedures and practices of State and local agencies, and where appropriate, specific cases, evaluate the extent to which State and local child protection system agencies are effectively discharging their child protection responsibilities in accordance with:
- the State plan under 42 U.S.C.A. § 5106a(b);
- the child protection standards set forth in 42 U.S.C.A. § 5106a(b);
- any other criteria the panel considers important to ensure the protection of children, including --
- a review of the extent to which the State and local child protective services system is coordinated with the foster care and adoption programs established under part E of title IV of the Social Security Act [42 U.S.C.A. § 670 et. Seq.]; and
- a review of child fatalities and near fatalities (as defined in 42 U.S.C.A. § 5106a(b)(4)).
The Citizen Review Panel (“CRP”) is required to be “comprised of volunteer members who are broadly representative of the community in which such a panel is established, including members who have expertise in the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect.” 42 U.S.C. § 5106a(c)(2). The CRP must also provide for public outreach and comment in order to assess the impact of current procedures and practices upon children and families in the community and in order to meet its own obligations. 42 U.S.C. § 5106a(c)(4)(C). CPAC’s statutory mandate and its initiatives closely parallel the requirements and purpose of CAPTA.