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

Tennessee 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]

Tennessee is working with Eckerd Kids to implement Eckerd Rapid Safety Feedback®, a real-time data analytics tool to flag high-risk child welfare cases for intensive monitoring and caseworker coaching. They are currently in the development stage. [Recommendation 2.1]

Tennessee's Child Death Review (CDR) process has three stages: data collection, the Child Death Review Team (CDRT) meeting, and the development of findings. During the data collection stage, information is derived from case records and interviews with individuals involved in providing care for the subject child or family. The collected data is then presented to the CDRT, which conducts a multidisciplinary Safety Systems Analysis of the case to be reviewed. Following the CDRT meeting, findings are developed to highlight issues discovered in the individual events and to understand the underlying systemic issues that may contribute to adverse outcomes. The CDRT reviews all confirmed near deaths, and it reviews deaths when a child was in DCS custody at the time of death, DCS had contact with the child or family within three years preceding the death, the child’s death has been substantiated for abuse, or the Commissioner or Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Child Safety requests a review. In addition to the direct benefits of an improved system for tracking, reporting and reviewing child deaths and near deaths, the CDR process is also a vehicle for identifying and analyzing systems issues and generating improvements. Information and recommendations from reviews are provided monthly to the state's Safety Action Group, which consists of high-level administrators from DCS.  [Recommendations 5.1, 6.2]