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Child Welfare Technical Assistance

Child Welfare Technical Assistance Unit

Child Abuse Prevention Treatment Act (CAPTA) and Children’s Justice Act (CJA)

Contact Information

Toni Lawal, Program Manager
Phone: (615) 782-6122
Email: tlawal@utk.edu


Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) / the Tennessee Citizen Review Panels (CRPs)

In 1996, a congressional amendment was made to CAPTA legislation requiring that states, in order to receive funding for the Child Abuse and Neglect State Grants Program, establish CRPs. The panels were charged with providing the involvement of CPS in the community at both the state and national levels. The work of the CRPs is facilitated by staff supported by a Department of Children’s Services (DCS) contract with the University of Tennessee College of Social Work Office of Research and Public Service (SWORPS).

Tennessee receives funding under CAPTA to comply with the requirement to establish and support at least three CRPs. Tennessee currently supports four CRPs in Shelby County, Montgomery County, Hamilton County, and the Northwest Region. These groups of local stakeholders oversee the department’s compliance with the provisions of CAPTA and address specific concerns in the child welfare system.



What are the typical charges and responsibilities of the CRPs?

  • Collaborate with other child welfare agencies to address concerns in the child protection system.
  • Promote and market the panels’ work to the community.
  • Research and prepare reports/special projects as needed/directed.
  • Provide technical assistance to all CRPs on work activities, including gathering data, developing presentation and training materials, addressing concerns, clarifying policy and procedure changes, conducting focus groups, and developing surveys.
  • Develop a formal written annual report documenting the CRPs’ work activities during the current fiscal year as well as CRP concerns and recommendations for improving the child protective system for inclusion in the state’s CAPTA plan and application for continued funding.
  • Prepare and submit other reports as required to support the state’s CAPTA plan and application for continued funding.
  • Monitor budget to ensure expenditures are appropriate and within budget guidelines, communicate with DCS when amendments are needed.
  • Participate in Child Welfare Collaboration Initiative (CWCI) quarterly conference calls, support collaboration work projects, and attend regional conference/meetings.
  • Attend national CRP conference and assist with planning conference activities upon request.
  • Coordinate and convene CRP chair meetings with Department of Children’s Services Commissioner or Executive Director of Child Safety once annually.
  • Provide website administration, maintain, monitor, update, and ensure information displayed is accurate and current, or archived as appropriate.
  • Coordinate and convene meetings including orientation for all new members.
  • Coordinate statewide meeting.
  • Coordinate travel arrangements and reimbursements for CRP representatives to attend an annual national CRP conference.
  • Work with committees to develop the annual recommendations for submission to the Department of Children’s Services.
  • Support special projects identified by the CRP and committees (i.e., Computer-based Training on Child Abuse Reporting, Child Abuse Reporting for Teachers Sheet, Foster Youth Handbook, Hamilton County Reality Check for Youth).

Children’s Justice Act (CJA), the Joint Task Force on Children’s Justice/Child Sexual Abuse (Children’s Justice Task Force)

The Joint Task Force on Children’s Justice/Child Sexual Abuse fulfills state and federal mandates: the Children’s Justice Act, 42 U.S.C. 5101 et eq., and Tennessee Code Annotated 37-1-603. In general, the role and collective work of this group has been to advise and assist the state departments (Children’s Services, Education, Health, Mental Health/Development Disabilities, and Human Services), law enforcement, and the judiciary in carrying out their duties related to child protection and responding to child abuse and neglect. The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services is mandated to convene this group, which meets four times per year. The work of the Task Force is facilitated by staff supported by a Department of Children’s Services contract with SWORPS.

Every two years, the Task Force must prepare a formal plan for presentation to the legislature. SWORPS staff works with Task Force members to develop the plan, write the formal document, professionally edit the plan, print, and distribute the plan.

Activities proposed for this fiscal year include the continuing development and maintenance of a jointly funded and supported web page that communicates the mission, vision, and ongoing work of both the Citizens’ Review Panels and the Task Force in its work with DCS and the communities the groups represent. Also continuing are services to provide stipends for approved travel by CJA and Task Force members to approved conferences and meetings.


What are the typical Task Force (CJTF) duties and responsibilities?

  • Collaborate with other child welfare agencies to address concerns in the child protection system.
  • Promote and market the panels’ work to the community.
  • Research and prepare reports/special projects as needed/directed.
  • Provide technical assistance to all CRPs on work activities, including gathering data, developing presentation and training materials, addressing concerns, clarifying policy and procedure changes, conducting focus groups, and developing surveys.
  • Develop a formal written annual report documenting the CRPs’ work activities during the current fiscal year as well as CRP concerns and recommendations for improving the child protective system for inclusion in the state’s CAPTA plan and application for continued funding.
  • Prepare and submit other reports as required to support the state’s CAPTA plan and application for continued funding.
  • Monitor budget to ensure expenditures are appropriate and within budget guidelines, communicate with DCS when amendments are needed.
  • Participate in Child Welfare Collaboration Initiative (CWCI) quarterly conference calls, support collaboration work projects, and attend regional conference/meetings.
  • Attend national CRP conference and assist with planning conference activities upon request.
  • Coordinate and convene CRP chair meetings with Department of Children’s Services Commissioner or Executive Director of Child Safety once annually.
  • Provide website administration, maintain, monitor, update, and ensure information displayed is accurate and current, or archived as appropriate.
  • Coordinate and convene meetings including orientation for all new members.
  • Coordinate statewide meeting.
  • Coordinate travel arrangements and reimbursements for CRP representatives to attend an annual national CRP conference.
  • Work with committees to develop the annual recommendations for submission to the Department of Children’s Services.
  • Support special projects identified by the CRP and committees (i.e., Computer-based Training on Child Abuse Reporting, Child Abuse Reporting for Teachers Sheet, Foster Youth Handbook, Hamilton County Reality Check for Youth).

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