This past spring, I was appointed by Speaker Ralston to the Child Fatality Review Panel. I would like to take this opportunity to acquaint readers to this crucial team, and the important work they do to make Georgia safe.
To begin, Georgia’s Child Fatality Review Program (CFR) was established in 1990, by a statute enacted by the Legislature. The CFR is an independent program, currently administered out of the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI). The program is funded by state general funds. There are four, state-level staff members, who are responsible for providing training and technical assistance to the local review committees. Local teams have no paid staff.
The work of the CFR is conducted by two teams, the state team and the local team. The state team is called the Georgia Child Fatality Review Panel (GCFRP). The Panel is comprised of 17 members, which meets quarterly to oversee the county child fatality review process, report to the governor annually on the incidence of child deaths and recommend prevention measures based on the data. Panel members are appointed by the Governor, Lt. Governor, and the Speaker of the House. I am the Speaker’s appointee. Many are ex-officio members and state agency leaders.
Much of the work of the CFR is done by our local officials. Georgia has 159 counties, and each county has its own CFR committee. There is a team in Cherokee County that is comprised of seven mandated agency members, who are directed to meet within 30 days of a child’s death, and to submit their findings, (i.e. the CFR report form), within 67 days of the death. Local committees are encouraged to invite additional agencies/organizations to the review meeting, as necessary. CFR policy also requires that a prevention advocate be a member of the local committee. The county coroner/medical examiner alerts the district attorney when a death has occurred, who initiates the review. Local committees are also encouraged to meet regularly, even if no deaths have occurred, to develop and review prevention efforts.
Local CFR committees, like the one here in Cherokee County, review all injury, sleep-related, and unexpected/suspicious deaths to children who are less than 18 years old. Local committees submit their reviews using the National CDR Case Reporting System; the state Panel reviews selected case reports that have been completed by the local committees.
The main purpose of Georgia’s CFR program is to prevent deaths. The mission of CFR is to serve Georgia’s children by promoting more accurate identification and reporting of child fatalities, evaluating the prevalence and circumstances of both child abuse cases and child fatality investigations, and monitoring the implementation and impact of the statewide, child injury prevention plan, in order to prevent and reduce incidents of child abuse and fatalities in the state.
I am very proud to be appointed to the State Child Fatality Review Panel and look forward to helping make the state of Georgia safer for its children.