In the late 1970s, local child death review teams were created in Los Angeles, North Carolina and Oregon to better identify, investigate and respond to child abuse fatalities. Other states developed similar efforts. In 1989, Missouri conducted a study that indicated that child maltreatment deaths were undercounted; Missouri also held a national meeting in 1994 which encouraged other states to begin reviewing child deaths. Following states’ lead, in 1993, the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) required states to report on child death review in their program plans and in 1996, CAPTA required each state to establish at least 3 citizen review panels and that at least one of them review child maltreatment deaths. By 1997, all states had state or local child fatality review teams. These programs may be statewide or local, depending on the states, and they consist of volunteer members who do a retrospective look at child fatalities in order to make improvements to the child welfare system to prevent future fatalities or near-fatalities.
See the National Center for the Review & Prevention of Child Deaths for more about child death review programs across the country.
Historically, states have addressed many aspects of child maltreatment fatality, including the establishment of child fatality review, public disclosure of information on child fatality, the reporting of child fatality, opening child fatality and near-fatality court proceedings to the public, adding to the lists of those entities that are to be notified of child maltreatment fatalities, investigation requirements, and authorizing the organization of multidisciplinary teams to oversee the child fatality review process, confidentiality, training and reporting of child fatalities.
For more information about child fatality enactments and to view the full bill text, visit NCSL’s Child Welfare Enacted Legislation Database.
Broader Child Fatality Issues
While this page focuses on child abuse and neglect fatalities, there is a broader child fatality conversation happening across the country that includes child maltreatment prevention and traffic safety. Here are a few NCSL resources on the broader child fatality issue that may be of interest:
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About This NCSL Project
The Denver-based child welfare project staff focuses on state policy, tracking legislation and providing research and policy analysis, consultation, and technical assistance specifically geared to the legislative audience. Denver staff can be reached at (303) 364-7700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NCSL staff in Washington, D.C. track and analyze federal legislation and policy and represent state legislatures on child welfare issues before Congress and the Administration. Staff in D.C. can be reached at (202) 624-5400 or email@example.com.