Kentucky’s 17-member Child Fatality and Near Fatality Review Panel will meet next week to begin work and a starting point could be the 55 death or near death cases recorded this past fiscal year.
The independent panel was created to provide oversight to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and to make recommendations for how the cabinet can improve. This follows long-term criticism in the way the CHFS handles its child abuse cases.
While the CHFS remains in litigation over whether it can keep certain child abuse documents private, the review panel will begin its work next Tuesday.
The goal of the first meeting is to determine which cases to review and how, said retired Franklin County Circuit Judge Roger Crittenden who chairs the panel.
“My initial idea was that we would review the last year first just to get an idea of where we’re going. And then once we see what we’re looking at in terms of the data that’s available on each case and how each case came up and how it’s written up then we might be back into the history to see if that’s been a pattern,” he said.
Last fiscal year there were 22 child fatality cases and 33 near fatality cases of which 30 were reviewed in some way by the CFHS. It’ll be up to the panel to decide if that’s where its review begins, but Crittenden said it would be one of the easier places to start.
“In the last five years there have been 386 cases,” he said.
Crittenden said the panel plans to discuss if the case reviews should be divided between smaller groups and he cites difficulty in managing schedules of the various professionals and experts that make up its members.
Further, he said, the panel will be responsible for looking at trends that pop up and helping CHFS with improvements that improve upon already existing services.
In the CHFS annual report, Crittenden said a major takeaway was the Cabinets conclusion that children under 4-years-old are most in danger and their parents are often drug abusers.
“That’s the type of thing I think we’re going to look for, is that type of data or whatever type of indicators there are that a child might be in a situation where abuse can occur and try to do some type of recommendation of preventive services that can overcome that,” he said.
The first meeting is set for Tuesday in Frankfort 10am.