State Law

New York State passed legislation to form Citizen Review Panels in the state in order to be in compliance with the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act Amendments of 1996 (CAPTA).

This legislation establishes at least three citizen review panels, one for the city of New York and at least two panels outside the city. The New York City panel consists of five subcommittees to evaluate the extent to which the state and the social services district are discharging their child protection responsibilities within each particular borough. Each panel must meet at least quarterly.

The law amended Social Services Law 371-b. Under this legislation the panels are authorized to:

  • Review the policies and procedures of the State and Local social services districts and, where appropriate, specific cases, evaluate the extent to which the agencies are effectively discharging their child protection responsibilities in accordance with
    • The state plan
    • The child protections standards set in federal law (42 U.S.C.5106a(b); and (c).
    • And any other criteria considered important to the protection of children.
  • Have access to information on specific cases.
  • Have reasonable access to public and private facilities providing child welfare services within their respective jurisdictions that receive public funds.
  • Hold public hearings on issues within their jurisdiction.
  • Have access to the report prepared by the state pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 5106a(d).
  • Prepare and make available to the public an annual report by February 1st, setting forth a summary of the Panel activities and the findings and recommendations of the Panels.

The New York State Office of Children and Family Services is to make available resources to support the needs of each citizen review panel and assist the panel.

Each Panel is to have thirteen members, seven of whom are appointed by the Governor, three by the temporary President of the Senate and three by the Speaker of the Assembly. Each Panel is to elect a chairperson and shall be composed of volunteer members who broadly represent the communities in which the Panel is established. Panels shall include members who have expertise in prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect. No person employed by Federal, State, County or Municipal agencies, which directly deliver child welfare services may be a panel member.

Any Panel member who knowingly discloses any identifying information about a specific child protection case to any person or governmental official may be subject to a civil penalty and removal from the Panel.