On Monday, April 18, CWLA members focused on the National Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities. Dr. David Sanders Ph.D., Chairman of the Commission, Executive Vice President, Casey Family Programs, presented some of the key findings and recommendations of the recently-released commission report. After Dr Sanders’ power-point presentation, discussion began with panel comments by Linda Spears, Commissioner, Children and Family Services, Massachusetts and Donna Pressma, President and CEO, Children’s Home Aide Society, New Jersey.
Dr Sanders pointed out that in 2014, 72.3% of child maltreatment fatalities were attributable to neglect or in combination with other forms of maltreatment. If you add in medical neglect (8.9%) the total would be over 80%. 41.3% of fatalities for 2014 were attributed to physical abuse or in combination with other forms of maltreatment. The youngest children are at the most risk:
- Nearly three-quarters (73.9%) of the children who died due to child abuse and neglect were younger than 3 years old.
- Nearly half (46.5%) were under age 1 year.
- Infants under 1 — for every 10 cases of nonfatal hospitalization due to abuse, there was 1 fatal hospitalization.
Deaths among American Indian/Alaska Native and African-American children are overrepresented in child maltreatment fatalities as compared to their proportion in the nation’s child population.
Some of the key lessons learned included:
- Infants and toddlers are at high risk of an abuse or neglect fatality compared to other age groups. They require special attention.
- A call to child protection hotline, regardless of the disposition is the best predictor of a later child abuse or neglect fatality. This points to the importance of the initial decision to “screen out” certain calls. Screening out leaves children unseen who may be at a high risk for later fatality.
- Involvement of health care and public health agencies and professionals is vital to safety for children. Well-coordinated interagency efforts are essential.
- The importance of child protection workers’ access to real-time information about families cannot be over-estimated.
- It is critical to have an accurate national count of child protection fatalities. Better data allow us to begin to understand what works and what doesn’t.
- The Nurse–Family Partnership program has been demonstrated to save lives.
The recommendations included some immediate recommendations as well as some long-term actions. To find out more go to the Commission final report. CWLA will be engaging its CWLA members in very near future deliberations.