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

Wyoming is one of the only states in the country that have expanded their child death review program to include the reviews of children who experience a serious injury as a result of child abuse or neglect and the only state in which their legislation specifically mandates serious injury reviews.  Because of this, last year the state’s Child Death Review and Prevention Team conducted reviews of 24 children who had a serious injury.  Only one child death was reviewed.  This expansion into serious injuries allows for even greater understanding of the causes, risk factors and systems responses related to child abuse and neglect.  Risk factors uncovered included those related to the child, their families, and agencies and included financial stress, substance use and abuse, unsafe sleep environments, pre-term births and too short post-natal hospital stays, domestic violence, repeat offenders, failure to recognize and report prior injuries and poor tracking of registered sex offenders. 

The team made 24 major recommendations for changes to policy and practice and the implementation of prevention initiatives. A sample of their innovative recommendations include:  Increased expansion of the Drug Endangered Children initiative to encourage better acknowledgement and assessment of children in homes by law enforcement during investigations of other reports, Encouragement of family planning education to mothers post-birth, regarding ideal birth spacing; Encouragement of statewide use of the “Bridges Out Of Poverty” training among human service related agencies and a recommendation for mental health facilities to use state-standard tools for screening regarding child sexual abuse victims.