BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                    AB 1737


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          Date of Hearing:   April 6, 2016


                       ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT


                           Susan Talamantes Eggman, Chair


          AB 1737  
          (McCarty) - As Introduced February 1, 2016


          SUBJECT:  Child death investigations:  review teams.


          SUMMARY:  Requires counties to establish interagency child death  
          review teams to assist local agencies in identifying and  
          reviewing suspicious child deaths and facilitating communication  
          among persons who perform autopsies and the various persons and  
          agencies involved in child abuse or neglect cases.


          EXISTING LAW:  


          1)Allows each county to establish an interagency child death  
            review team to assist local agencies in identifying and  
            reviewing suspicious child deaths and facilitating  
            communication among persons who perform autopsies and the  
            various persons and agencies involved in child abuse or  
            neglect cases.


          2)States that interagency child death review teams have been  
            used successfully to ensure that incidents of child abuse or  
            neglect are recognized and other siblings and nonoffending  
            family members receive the appropriate services in cases where  
            a child has expired.








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          3)Allows each county to develop a protocol that may be used as a  
            guideline by persons performing autopsies on children to  
            assist coroners and other persons who perform autopsies in the  
            identification of child abuse or neglect, in the determination  
            of whether child abuse or neglect contributed to death or  
            whether child abuse or neglect had occurred prior to but was  
            not the actual cause of death, and in the proper written  
            reporting procedures for child abuse or neglect, including the  
            designation of the cause and mode of death.


          4)Allows, in developing an interagency child death review team  
            and an autopsy protocol, each county, working in consultation  
            with local members of the California State Coroner's  
            Association and county child abuse prevention coordinating  
            councils, to solicit suggestions and final comments from  
            persons, including, but not limited to, the following:


             a)   Experts in the field of forensic pathology;


             b)   Pediatricians with expertise in child abuse;


             c)   Coroners and medical examiners;


             d)   Criminologists;


             e)   District attorneys;


             f)   Child protective services staff;










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             g)   Law enforcement personnel;


             h)   Representatives of local agencies which are involved  
               with child abuse or neglect reporting;


             i)   County health department staff who deals with children's  
               health issues; and,


             j)   Local professional associations of persons described in  
               a) through i), above.


          5)Provides that records exempt from disclosure to third parties  
            pursuant to state or federal law shall remain exempt from  
            disclosure when they are in the possession of a child death  
            review team.


          6)Requires, no less than once each year, each child death review  
            team to make available to the public findings, conclusions,  
            and recommendations of the team, including aggregate  
            statistical data on the incidences and causes of child deaths,  
            and requires, in its report, that the team withhold the last  
            name of the child that is subject to a review or the name of  
            the deceased child's siblings, unless the name has been  
            publicly disclosed or is required to be disclosed by state  
            law, federal law, or court order.


          7)States that it is the duty of the California State Child Death  
            Review Council to oversee the statewide coordination and  
            integration of state and local efforts to address fatal child  
            abuse or neglect and to create a body of information to  
            prevent child deaths.










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          FISCAL EFFECT:  This bill is keyed fiscal.


          COMMENTS:  


          1)Bill Summary.  Current law allows, but does not require, each  
            county to establish an interagency child death review team,  
            and requires that child review death team to compile a report  
            containing findings, conclusions, and recommendations,  
            including aggregate statistical data on the incidences and  
            causes of child deaths. 


            This bill would require each county to establish an  
            interagency child death review team to assist local agencies  
            in identifying and reviewing suspicious child deaths, and  
            require that county to develop an autopsy protocol.  Because  
            the bill mandates that each county create a team, the  
            corresponding report by the child death review team would also  
            be mandatory.


            This bill is author-sponsored.


          2)Author's Statement.  According to the author, "Child review  
            death teams in California began as informal gatherings of  
            concerned parents and professionals [who] wanted to take  
            proper steps in order to review child deaths and learn from  
            them in order to save other children's lives.  In 1988,  
            California legislation was enacted to establish child death  
            review teams in order to investigate suspicious child deaths  
            and facilitate communication among the various entities that  
            could provide useful information for the annual report.


            "AB 1737 aims to increase accountability and transparency and  
            as a community improve protection services for children.  The  








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            purpose of producing an annual child death report is to  
            provide vital information should children be dying of similar  
            reasons in one county compared to another.  With no data of  
            common occurrences, county officials do not have accurate  
            information to link these occurrences and therefore prevent  
            future deaths.  This bill requires all counties to produce an  
            annual child death review report in order to identify how and  
            why children die, to further facilitate the creation and  
            implementation of strategies to prevent future deaths."


          3)Background.   The primary purpose of child death review teams  
            is to prevent future child deaths.  At the county level, these  
            teams produce educational materials so that the more common  
            causes of child death can be prevented.  For example,  
            according to the author, in Sacramento "The Sacramento County  
            Child Death Review Team, which reviews the deaths of every  
            child that dies in Sacramento County, has used the report's  
            findings in order to create public awareness campaigns. The  
            recommendations have translated to the Shaken Baby Syndrome  
            Prevention Campaign, the Infant Safe Sleep Campaign, and the  
            Drowning Prevention Campaign to reduce preventable deaths."   
            However, each county's experience is different.  This is where  
            statewide child death review can help prevent counties from  
            duplicating efforts. 



          The statewide Child Death Review Council is responsible for  
            collecting data and information from the counties and turning  
            it into reports to the public and Legislature.  Part of the  
            statutory scheme that created child death review teams  
            included creation of the Child Death Review Council "to  
            coordinate and integrate state and local efforts to address  
            fatal child abuse or neglect, and to create a body of  
            information to prevent child deaths."  (Penal Code Section  
            11174.34(a)(1).)  The Child Death Review Council is required  
            to "[a]nalyze and interpret state and local data on child  
            death in an annual report to be submitted to local child death  








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            review teams with copies to the Governor and the Legislature,  
            no later than July 1 each year.  Copies of the report shall  
            also be distributed to California public officials who deal  
            with child abuse issues and to those agencies responsible for  
            child death investigation in each county.  The report shall  
            contain, but not be limited to, information provided by state  
            agencies and the county child death review teams for the  
            preceding year."  (Penal Code Section 11174.34(d)(1).)   
            Therefore, a report analyzing the data collected by each local  
            child death review team is currently a public document.   
            Requiring each local child death review team to also make  
            public its own data appears to be consistent with the overall  
            objectives of the teams, i.e., creating a body of information  
            on the causes of child deaths to help prevent such tragedies.   
            Increased transparency may also enhance the public's trust in  
            local child death review.
          4)State Mandate.  This bill contains language that says that if  
            the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill  
            contains costs mandated by the state, then reimbursement to  
            local agencies for those costs shall be made, as specified.


          5)Arguments in Support. Sierra Health Foundation, in support,  
            argues that "requiring each county to have an active child  
            death review team will create uniformity across the state;  
            with accurate data this information could be used to create  
            public awareness campaigns and reduce the number of child  
            deaths much like our efforts here in Sacramento County."


          6)Arguments in Opposition.  None on file.


          7)Double-Referral.  This bill was heard by the Public Safety  
            Committee on March 15, 2016, and passed on consent.


          









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          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support


          American Academy of Pediatrics, California


          Legal Advocates for Children & Youth


          National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter


          Sierra Health Foundation: Center for Health Program Management


          The Child Abuse Prevention Center




          Opposition


          None on file




          Analysis Prepared by:Debbie Michel / L. GOV. / (916) 319-3958









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