Special Efforts Being Made in Kentucky to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities

In 2016, Kentucky established an independent panel of medical, legal and social work experts who meet regularly to examine suspicious child fatality and near-fatality cases statewide. The Child Fatality and Near Fatality External Review Panel publishes a report by December 1 of each year consisting of case reviews, findings and recommendations for system and process improvements to help prevent child fatalities and near fatalities that are due to abuse and neglect.  [Recommendations 6.2, 6.3b]

Kentucky is one of eight states participating in the Three Branch Institute’s technical assistance effort on child safety and strategies to eliminate child fatalities due to abuse and neglect. The Three Branch Institute was founded in 2009 as a partnership among the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, Casey Family Programs, the National Center for State Courts and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. They will provide assistance to states in developing child fatality prevention plans that will be implemented by December 2017.  [Recommendation 5.2b]

Kentucky has created enhanced standards of practice for the intake of child abuse and neglect allegations, based on a review of unexplained injuries experienced by child victims in the months preceding a fatality or near fatality. The criteria provided some detail on what types of follow-up examinations a child subject of an abuse or neglect report should receive before closing an investigation. [Recommendation 2.1]


September 08, 2017- Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control have identified a list of ten traumatizing childhood events referred to as Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACEs. These can include overt abuse (physical, emotional, or sexual) as well as less immediately identifiable stressors such as neglect, guardian substance abuse, and mental illness within the household. A growing body of research confirms that these childhood events can have negative, lasting effects on an individual's health and well-being long into adulthood, and the greater the number of ACEs to which one is exposed, the more likely one is to face serious, long-term health impacts.