(a) There is hereby established the Citizen Review Panel, whose purpose is to serve as an external, independent oversight body for the District’s child welfare system, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of District government agencies involved in child protection as well as neighborhood-based services provided by vendors.
(b) The Panel shall examine the policies, practices, and procedures of the Agency and any other District government agency that provides services to children at risk of abuse and neglect, or to children under the care of the Agency, including, as appropriate, the review of specific child cases. Based on this examination, the Panel shall evaluate the extent to which agencies serving children at risk of abuse or neglect, or children under the care of the Agency, are effectively discharging their child protection responsibilities in accordance with:
(1) The State plan required by section 106(b) of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, approved April 25, 1988 (102 Stat. 110; 42 U.S.C. § 5106A(b));
(2) The child protection standards set forth in section 106(b) of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, approved April 25, 1988 (102 Stat. 110; 42 U.S.C. § 5106A(b)); and
(3) Any other criteria that the Panel deems important to ensure the protection of children.
(c) The Panel shall solicit public outreach and comment in order to assess the impact of current policies, practices, and procedures of the child welfare system on children and families in the District of Columbia.
(d)(1) The Panel shall submit a report, no later than April 30th of each year, to the Mayor, Council, and Agency, summarizing the Panel’s activities and findings during the prior calendar year, containing recommendations on how to improve child welfare services and outcomes in the District of Columbia, and providing information on the progress the District government is making in implementing the recommendations of the Panel.
(2) The Agency shall make the annual report available to the public by providing access to it on its Internet site.
(3) Not later than 6 months after the Panel publishes the annual report, the Agency shall provide a written response that describes whether or how the Agency, in coordination with other government agencies, will implement the Panel’s recommendations in order to make measurable progress in improving the child welfare system.