The most tragic consequence of child abuse and neglect is a child fatality. Child protective services, law enforcement, and medical professionals often work together to investigate and respond in cases of possible child maltreatment deaths. The following resources provide strategies for responding collaboratively to investigate child fatalities or near fatalities, including State and local examples.
CDC's Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) Initiative
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Offers training materials on infant death scene investigations to improve the accuracy of reporting and classification of SUIDs. The website includes a reporting form and information on a SUID case registry.
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Child Welfare Information Gateway
Case, Service, and Household Characteristics of Families That Experience a Child Maltreatment Fatality (PDF - 608 KB)
Douglas & Serino (2012)
Child Maltreatment Fatalities: Perceptions and Experiences of Child Welfare Professionals Fact Sheet Series, 3
Documents findings from a study conducted from September 2010 to January 2011 in which 426 child welfare professionals from 25 States participated; 123 (27.2 percent) of participants had a maltreatment fatality on their caseload.
Child Maltreatment: Strengthening National Data on Child Fatalities Could Aid in Prevention (PDF - 1,731 KB)
United States Government Accountability Office (2011)
Examines the extent to which the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) collects and reports comprehensive information on child fatalities from maltreatment, the challenges States face in collecting and reporting this information to HHS, and the assistance HHS provides to States in collecting and reporting data on child maltreatment fatalities.
A Department of Investigation Examination of Eleven Child Fatalities and One Near Fatality (PDF - 1,055 KB)
New York City Department of Investigation & Administration for Children's Services (2007)
Discusses findings from an investigation of the deaths of 11 children and 1 near child drowning between late October 2005 and July 2006. These events occurred while the children's parents were under investigation by New York City's Administration for Children's Services (ACS) for abuse or neglect or after ACS had completed investigations concerning the parents.
Distinguishing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome From Child Abuse Fatalities
Pediatrics, 118(1), 2006
Provides professionals with information and suggestions for procedures to help avoid stigmatizing families of sudden infant death syndrome victims while allowing accumulation of appropriate evidence in potential cases of infanticide.
Multi-Agency Identification and Investigation of Severe Nonfatal and Fatal Child Injury: Guidelines for Networking, Communication and Collaboration (PDF - 1,423 KB)
Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect (ICAN), ICAN Associates, & California Emergency Management Services (3rd ed.) (2009)
Advocates for the systematic review of severe child injury by communities and individual hospitals. The manual focuses on nonfatal injuries, understanding that severe injury is on a continuum that may end in death.
Policy Statement: Child Fatality Review
Christian, Sege, Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect, Committee on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention, & Council on Community Pediatrics
Pediatrics, 126(3), 2010
Discusses the development of Federal and State legislation to enhance the child fatality review process and recommends that pediatricians become involved in local and State child death reviews.
State Secrecy and Child Deaths in the U.S.: An Evaluation of CAPTA-Mandated Public Disclosure Policies About Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities or Near Fatalities, With State Rankings (PDF - 2,355)
University of San Diego School of Law, Children's Advocacy Institute & First Star (2nd ed.) (2012)
Grades all 50 states and the District of Columbia on their laws and regulations pertaining to public disclosure of child abuse or neglect deaths and near deaths.
2008/2009 Office of Children and Family Services Report on Child Fatalities (PDF - 2,202 KB)
New York State Office of Children and Family Services (2012)
Presents data on child fatalities in New York State from 2008 to 2009, particularly those deaths that are deemed to have occurred within the context of child welfare services.
Implementation Status of Child Fatality Recommendations (PDF - 937 KB)
Washington Office of the Family and Children's Ombudsman (2013)
Provides a summary and analysis of the 152 recommendations resulting from the child fatality reviews and how they have been implemented.
Michigan Child Injury and Death Coordinated and Comprehensive Investigation Resource Protocol (PDF - 1,239 KB)
Michigan Public Health Institute, Governor's Task Force on Children's Justice (2008)
Provides information to ensure successful coordinated investigations in child maltreatment cases, including child maltreatment cases that result in a child death, and to minimize additional trauma to child victims.
Review of Child Fatality and Near Fatality Procedures and Reports (PDF - 515 KB)
National Resource Center for Child Protective Services
Reviews States' child fatality review processes, including reports and follow-ups to reviews, and offers recommendations to enhance Washington State's processes.
Review of Minnesota Child Deaths and Near Fatalities Related to Child Maltreatment 2005–2009 (PDF - 181 KB)
Minnesota Department of Human Services, Child Safety and Permanency Division (2011)
Presents the findings of a review of child mortality in Minnesota from 2005 to 2009 and discusses strategies implemented by Minnesota to address different categories of child mortality.
Supporting Child Protective Services (CPS) Staff Following a Child Fatality or Other Critical Incidents (PDF - 271 KB)
Pulido & Lacina
APSAC Advisor, Fall, 2010
Describes the Restoring Resiliency Response crisis debriefing protocol, a crisis debriefing program used to respond to the needs of CPS workers in New York City.