Safeguard the health and safety of all Delaware children as set forth in 31 Del. C. c. 3.
- Review in a confidential manner, the deaths of children under the age of 18, near-deaths of abused and/or neglected children and stillbirths occurring after at least 20 weeks of gestation.
- Provide the Governor, General Assembly and Child Protection Accountability Commission with recommendations to alleviate those practices or conditions that impact the mortality of children.
- Assist in facilitating appropriate action in response to recommendations.
Background and Accomplishments
Delaware’s child death review process was established by legislation passed on July 19, 1995, after a pilot project showed the effectiveness of such a review process for preventing future child deaths. The statute was amended in 2002, and again in 2004, changing the name from the Delaware Child Death Review Commission to the Child Death, Near Death and Stillbirth Commission. As a companion to the 2004 amendment, three general fund staff positions were dedicated to support the Commission.
The Child Death, Near Death and Stillbirth Commission (CDNDSC) has the authority to create up to three regional child death review panels and three regional Fetal and Infant Mortality Review (FIMR) teams to conduct retrospective reviews of all child deaths, near deaths due to abuse/neglect and stillbirths (after 20 weeks gestation) that occur in the state. The Commission provides meaningful system-wide recommendations to prevent the deaths and/or near deaths of children and improve services to children. The process brings professionals and experts from a variety of disciplines together to conduct retrospective case reviews, create multi-faceted recommendations to improve systems and encourage interagency collaboration to end the mortality of children in Delaware.
In Fiscal Year 2005, the Commission worked in collaboration with the Division of Public Health (DPH) to implement a FIMR pilot under the leadership of the Governor’s Infant Mortality Task Force. This pilot included the review of 50 infant deaths occurring in 2003 using Commission case information and maternal interviews conducted by DPH social workers.
In 2005, FIMR’s budgetary positions were placed within the Child Death, Near Death and Stillbirth Commission. These three positions include an RN III FIMR Program Coordinator, Senior Medical Social Worker and an administrative specialist. The FIMR reviews will include information gathered through a clinical review and summary of records and maternal interviews. In April 2007, the Kent/Sussex and New Castle case review teams started reviewing cases.
In Fiscal Year 2007, reviews were conducted monthly by each of the three panels (consisting of New Castle, Kent/Sussex, and Abuse/Neglect). A child death or near-death is considered to be preventable if one or more interventions (medical, community, legal, and/or psychological) might reasonably have averted the child's death or near-death. The bi-annual joint reviews (where domestic violence was a factor in the death or near death) with the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council’s Fatal Incident Review Team began in April 2007.
The most significant accomplishment for FY07 is that FIMR has finally been implemented. FIMR is now fully staffed and functional. The Commission has signed a Memorandum Of Understanding with the Division of Public Health. The search for an appropriate database for FIMR has resulted in the adoption of the BASINET (Baby Abstracting System and Information Network) program that was developed by the Florida Healthy Start Coalition to track fetal and infant deaths. This program has been successfully implemented by several states and appears to meet the needs of the Commission. This program will also be used to provide information to the national database on children’s deaths. The Commission has agreed to work with the Delaware Healthy Mothers and Infant Consortium, which will act as the Community Action Team for the FIMR process.
The Commission has met at least quarterly to review and approve the work of the panels. The last annual report (yearly report) was produced in 2003. All future annual reports will be done fiscally. The next report will be a compilation of FY03 to FY07. The report is expected to be released within the next few months. The report is distributed to public officials and interested citizens. The recommendations from the expedited reviews of abuse/neglect cases are immediately sent to the Governor, General Assembly, CDNDSC, and the Child Protection Accountability Commission.
LOCATION AND STAFF:
Child Death, Near Death and Stillbirth Commission (CDNDSC)
900 King Street, Suite 220
Wilmington, DE 19801
Main number: 302-255-1760
Fax number: 302-577-1129
Anne Pedrick, MS
Joan Kelley, RN
FIMR Program Coordinator
Child Death Specialist
Kristin Joyce, BA
Senior Medical Social Worker