BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Those reviewing Idaho child protection cases say they are not getting access to all the documents required to do their work.
Lawmakers last year created citizen review panels in each of the state’s seven health districts to review all child protection cases, The Idaho Press reported this past weekend.
The legislation followed studies by the state Office of Performance Evaluations showing significant problems in the child protection system.
Members of the Legislature’s Child Protection Legislative Oversight Committee have asked the Department of Health & Welfare to look into ensuring the panels receive sufficient information to conduct reviews.
The legislation specifically granted members “access to copies of all records in the department’s custody related to the child and case under review, including prior referrals, prior safety assessments, all court filings and any police reports.”
Shannon McCarthy of the District 4 review panel in Boise said members are “at a standstill because of the insufficient information.”
“We all have confidentiality agreements,” McCarthy said. “We’re not in the business of trying to share information. We just want to do what we are supposed to do and would request that we have a little help with that.”
But Roxanne Printz, Health & Welfare deputy division administrator for child protection, said Idaho law is “silent as to whether citizen review panels are able to seek out additional information from collateral sources other than the record that is maintained.”
She said the department would be glad to work with lawmakers to change the statute to give additional access to citizen review panels.
Health districts oversee various home-visiting programs that have proven to be the best child abuse and neglect prevention efforts in Idaho, officials and advocates told the legislative oversight committee.
Republican Rep. Mike Moyle, House co-chairman of the committee, said he has “never been a big fan of health districts.”
“I don’t think they do a good job in most cases, and some of them looks like they’re doing nothing more than hoarding money,” Moyle said.
John Sahlin, chairman of the District 1 review panel in Coeur d’Alene, disagreed.
“My concern is we need to do more,” he said.