Senate Bill No. 379
(By Senators Oliverio, Caldwell, Fanning, Kessler, Deem,
Facemyer, Smith, Ross, Sharpe, Hunter, Rowe, Jenkins, McKenzie,
Minard, Minear and Plymale)
[Introduced January 28, 2003;
referred to the Committee on the Judiciary; and then to the
Committee on Finance.]
A BILL to amend chapter forty-nine of the code of West Virginia,
one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, by adding
thereto a new article, designated article six-f, relating to
the establishment of the citizen review panel to review the
procedures of child protective services; providing for the
composition and duties of membership; providing for
confidentiality requirements; providing for expense
reimbursement; providing for civil penalties; and providing
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That chapter forty-nine of the code of West Virginia, one
thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by adding
thereto a new article, designated article six-f, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 6F. CITIZEN REVIEW PANEL.
49-6F-1. Establishment and purpose of citizen review panel.
The state citizen review panel is hereby established. Its
purpose is to evaluate the extent to which state and local agencies
are effectively discharging their child protection
(a) The secretary of the department of health and human
resources shall appoint a citizen review panel to make
recommendations to the secretary, governor and to the appropriate
committees of the Legislature concerning specific issues relating
to child abuse and neglect.
(b) The secretary shall solicit nominations for the
appointment of members to the citizen review panel from appropriate
professional organizations and the membership committee of the
(c) The secretary shall appoint members who are broadly
representative of the state, with consideration to the
representation of ethnic or racial minorities and diverse
geographic areas. The panel shall include individuals with
expertise in the prevention and treatment of child abuse and
neglect, and may include persons who represent: (1) Child
protective services; (2) foster care; (3) child fatality review team; (4) child advocates; (5) law enforcement; (6) court appointed
special advocates (CASA); (7) attorneys representing children; (8)
parents; (9) consumers; (10) medicine; (11) prosecuting attorneys;
(12) youth; (13) domestic violence advocates; and (14) social
(d) The panel shall be composed of no more than fifteen (15)
members and shall elect a chairperson and vice-chairperson at its
first meeting from the members of the panel.
(e) Each member of the panel shall serve without compensation,
but may be reimbursed for actual and necessary expenses in a manner
consistent with guidelines of the travel management office of the
department of administration.
(f) The panel shall meet not less than once every three
(a) The panel shall examine the policies and procedures of
state and local child protection agencies and where appropriate,
specific cases, and evaluate the extent to which the agencies are
effectively discharging their child protection responsibilities in
(1) The West Virginia child and family services plan; and
(2) The federal child abuse prevention and treatment act.
(b) The panel may examine any other criteria it considers
important to ensure the protection of children, including:
(1) The agency's coordination with the foster care and
adoption programs established under part E of title IV of the
Social Security Act; and
(2) Child fatalities and near fatalities.
(c) The panel shall prepare an annual report containing a
summary of the activities of the panel and any recommendations
pursuant to this section, and deliver the report to the secretary,
governor, the Legislature and other appropriate entities.
49-6F-4. State assistance.
The department of health and human resources shall:
(a) Provide the panel access to information on cases that the
panel desires to review if the information is necessary for the
panel to carry out its functions; and
(b) Provide the panel, upon its request, staff assistance for
the performance of its duties.
(a) The proceedings and records of the citizen review panel
shall be confidential and privileged and may not be subject to
subpoena or discovery in a civil action, nor may they be admitted
as evidence in any civil action arising out of the matters which
are subject to evaluation and review the panel. No person may be
permitted or required to testify in any such civil action as to any
evidence or other matters produced or presented during the
proceedings of the panel, or as to any findings, recommendations, evaluations, opinions or other actions of the panel or any of its
(b) Information, documents or records otherwise available
from original sources may not be construed as immune from discovery
or use in any civil action merely because they were presented
during proceedings of the panel.
(c) No person who has participated in activities conducted by
the panel may be prevented from testifying in a civil action as to
matters within his or her knowledge, but the witness may not be
required to testify about his or her presentation before the panel
or opinions formed by him or her as a result of participation in
(d) The members and staff of a panel may not:
(1) Disclose to any person or government official any
identifying information about any specific child protection case
with respect to which the panel is provided information; or
(2) Make public any other information provided to the panel
concerning any specific child protection case unless authorized by
(e) All information provided to the panel pursuant to its duty
to review child protection cases shall either be destroyed
following the review or shall be returned to the individual or
agency providing the information.
§49-6F-6. Civil penalties.
Any person who violates the provisions of section five of this
article may be subject to civil penalties in an action brought by
the secretary of health and human resources, in an amount not less
than one hundred nor more than one thousand dollars for each
49-6F-7. Immunity from liability.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, all persons,
including but not limited to members and staff of the panel and
persons called to present information to the panel, engaged in
activities conducted by the panel related to its duty to review
child protection cases as authorized by this article, shall be
immune from individual civil liability while acting in good faith
and without malice.
(NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to
codify the creation of
a multi-disciplinary citizen panel to review the policies,
procedures, and when appropriate, specific cases handled by child
This bill was recommended for introduction and passage by the
Joint Standing Committee on the Judiciary.
This article is new, therefore, strike-throughs and
underscoring have been omitted.)