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Indiana Department of Child Services develops local child fatality review teams

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INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 14, 2012) – The Indiana Department of Child Services has issued letters across the state, asking county agencies and professional groups to recommend experts to serve on local child-fatality review teams. This action is the result of a new law that went into effect July 1, 2012, requiring DCS to establish review teams in all 18 regions it staffs throughout Indiana.

“We’re pleased with this new legislation,” said John Ryan, DCS chief of staff. “We believe it is a crucial step in holistically preventing child fatalities. Child death review is a multidisciplinary process that can help us better understand why child fatalities occur within the community, and to help us identify how we can prevent future deaths.”

DCS took the lead in bringing the idea of regional review teams to legislators last year, and legislators moved forward with it during the 2012 General Assembly. This legislation put Indiana a step ahead of state’s like Kentucky.

A bill to establish a statewide child fatality review panel failed to pass Kentucky’s general assembly this past spring. Later, however, Gov. Steve Beshear signed an executive order to create a 17-member panel that will review child death and near-death cases throughout his state.

Indiana’s child-fatality review teams will be localized to regions throughout the state. Each team, by law, will be made up of a coroner or deputy coroner, a pathologist and representatives from law enforcement, mental-health services, pediatrics, the health department, prosecutors’ offices, fire department, school districts, and emergency medical services.

In its letter to county agencies and professional groups this week, DCS asked each to work collectively within its region to select one representative from each professional discipline and submit those names to DCS for consideration by Sept. 15, 2012.

Review teams are expected to begin meeting in the fall.

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