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

Virginia 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. Through this effort, Virginia has been working on a public health approach to abuse/neglect fatalities and how the statewide system can be more responsive to this issue. Through this initiative, the state has worked on data exchanges with collaborating agencies; passed Code changes for how it responds to substance-exposed Infants and wraps services around the infant, mother and family; implemented a mandatory 24-hour response time for any valid child protective services report for a child under the age of 2; and is working on a statewide Safe Sleep campaign through partnership with the Baby Box Company. More than 70 professionals, physicians, and other citizens are assisting with this effort.  [Recommendation 5.2b]

The state passed legislation, proposed by the Governor, that focuses on enhancing care for the 73,000 children of Virginia's military families by improving collaboration among civilian and military agencies. The legislation would require child welfare agencies share a child’s military affiliation with military authorities. [Recommendation 6.1e]

Local effort in Hopewell County: The Hopewell Department of Social Services (DSS) discusses safe sleep with all parents with children under the age of 1. They provide brochures and information about the dangers of co-sleeping. They also purchase pack and plays for parents who do not have cribs and ask the families to sign safety plans saying that they will use them. [Recommendation 7.1c]

Local effort in the Piedmont Region:  Quarterly meetings of the Piedmont Region Child Fatality Review Team involve a multidisciplinary effort to review child fatality cases, identify causative factors and provide recommendations of strategies to prevent abuse and neglect. [Recommendation 6.2c]

Local effort in Norfolk, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Suffolk counties: The Safe Sleep Regional Taskforce was convened to reduce sleep-related fatalities. The Hampton Roads Fatality Review Board presented annual findings to the community via a press conference, and a Safe Sleep Committee was formed with local stakeholders to propose solutions. [Recommendation 7.1c]