Clark reports no fatal, near fatal events from child abuse in 2018

Published 12:40 pm Monday, December 30, 2019

For the first time since 2014, Clark County had no fatal or near fatal events because of child abuse and neglect in 2018, according to a new report.

Clark County reported two fatal or near fatal cases in 2017, one case in 2016 and one case in 2015, according to the Child Fatality and Near Fatality External Review Panel. 

The Child Fatality and Near Fatality External Review Panel was created in 2012 for the purpose of conducting comprehensive reviews of child fatalities and near fatalities suspected to be the result of abuse or neglect in Kentucky.

The panel reviews cases referred from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Department for Community Based Services and the Department for Public Health.

According to the 2019 Annual Report, the panel met six times throughout 2019 including a two-day session in October.

Cases reviewed were from state fiscal year 2018 (July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018). The panel reviewed 136 cases throughout the state, of the 136 cases there were 54 fatalities and 82 near fatalities.

Of the 54 fatalities, six of the cases were reported to DCBS as near fatalities which ultimately resulted in a fatality. Fifteen fatality cases were referred to the Panel from the Department for Public Health.

According to the report, the average age of child victims in all cases reviewed in 2018 was 1 to 4 years old; nearly half (48%) of child victims fell into this age range. Child victims younger than 1 made up the second highest percentage (27%) of all cases in 2018.

The highest number of fatalities in 2018 was attributed to drowning or near drowning, followed by blunt force trauma and neglect, according to the report. Overdose/ingestion, physical abuse and abusive head trauma topped the list for cases involving near fatalities.

According to the report, the objective of the panel’s work is to recommend system and process improvements to prevent child fatalities and near fatalities due to abuse and neglect.

Key findings from the report include:

— DCBS history continues to be the most common family characteristic in all cases reviewed by the panel.

— The most commonly found family characteristics in a fatality/near fatality in order of precedence for FY18 cases reviewed: DCBS history; Financial issues; Criminal history (in the home and caregiver); Mental health issues (caregiver); Substance abuse (at home); Supervisional neglect

— Neglect because unsafe access to deadly means and supervisory neglect were the most common panel determinations.

— 78% of the cases reviewed from FY18 had a prior history with child protective services

— 75% of all cases reviewed involved a child 4 years of age or younger

— 58% of all cases with a panel determination of neglect due to unsafe access to deadly means were overdose/ingestion cases.

— 73% of Abusive Head Trauma cases involved substance abuse by a caregiver.

— 71% of all Blunt Force Trauma — not inflicted MVC cases involved substance abuse by a caregiver.

The report also determined 93% of the incidents it reviewed could have been prevented.

For more information, visit the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet’s website at justice.ky.gov/Pages/CFNFERP.aspx.

About Lashana Harney

Lashana Harney is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. Her beats include schools and education, business and commerce, Winchester Municipal Utilities and other news. To contact her, email lashana.harney@winchestersun.com or call 859-759-0015.

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