IN health department launches effort to help prevent child fatalities


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (ADAMS) – The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) has launched a new pilot program aimed at reducing serious injuries to children caused by abuse or neglect with support from a new federal initiative.

Through the Child Safety Forward grant, ISDH has partnered with the Indiana University School of Social Work to conduct the pilot program in Clark, Delaware and Grant counties. Working through the local Child Fatality Review teams, ISDH will also collaborate with the Indiana Department of Child Services to help identify cases for review.

The U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime is providing $750,000 over three years and assistance from experts in addressing child maltreatment injuries and fatalities. ISDH is one of five agencies nationwide that has been awarded a federal grant to reduce and prevent child abuse or neglect deaths and injuries.

“It’s vitally important that we do everything we can to protect children,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG. “This grant boosts our efforts to protect Indiana babies and children by helping community partners identify risk factors, improve response systems and ultimately keep more kids safe.”

The initiative will:

Engage the local Child Fatality Review teams to examine cases from 2014-18 to understand the risk factors and circumstances that contributed to the tragedies.
Conduct a needs assessment to identify areas of opportunity for improved services and response.
Recommend plans for intervention for a more coordinated response that can help strengthen services and prevent future incidents.
“If we understand the caregiver stress factors that put children at risk of abuse or neglect, we can take steps to intervene before a life is lost,” said DCS Director Terry Stigdon. “I am encouraged by the opportunity to collaborate with the Indiana State Department of Health to improve outcomes for those we serve.”

The national Alliance for Strong Families and Communities is a Washington, D.C.-based strategic action network that works to achieve a healthy and equitable society. The Alliance will provide technical assistance and coaching, including case evaluation, digital mapping and safety practices.

In 2018, 65 child fatalities were determined to be a direct result of abuse or neglect. Delaware, Clark and Grant counties have injury deaths among children that are above the state average.

Child Fatality Review was established by legislation in Indiana in 2006. Participation in Child Fatality Review was voluntary until 2012, when changes to Indiana law mandated regional teams and placed Child Fatality Review under ISDH.