Texas Child Fatality Review

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About Texas Child Fatality Review

In 1995, Texas law makers formed the State Child Fatality Review Team Committee (SCFRT Committee). Counties could form local and regional Child Fatality Review Teams (CFRTs) as well. Senate Bill 6, page 61 amended sections of the Family Code Chapter 264 (PDF). The law moved support and coordination of CFRTs from the Department of Family and Protective Services to the Department of State Health Services.

The Office of Injury Prevention includes child fatality reviews. The Office facilitates the State Child Fatality Review Team Committee (committee). The committee works with local CFRTs to provide recommendations about injury prevention activities such as drowning prevention and motor vehicle safety. These recommendations relate to modifying current legislation, increasing public education, and determining feasibility of strengthening systems.

This committee reports aggregate child fatality data collected by local CFRTs and recommends strategies to prevent child fatalities and injuries. The committee provides recommendations to the Texas legislature and the Department of Family and Protective Services child safety review subcommittee on child protective services operations. The child safety review subcommittee is an internal DFPS committee that meets quarterly to discuss recommendations to improve DFPS practices and prevent child deaths.

The report is made to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives no later than April 1 of each even-numbered year.

Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Investigation Reporting Form

CDC recently updated the Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Investigation Reporting Form (SUIDIRF). The SUIDIRF is a voluntary tool for states and jurisdictions to use and allows investigators to document their findings easily and consistently. As a result, the SUIDIRF produces information to better understand SUID and inform efforts to prevent future deaths.

In collaboration with stakeholders, CDC reduced redundancy and streamlined the form, reordered and retitled sections, and updated questions to address emerging issues. The revised SUIDIRF has been endorsed by the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators, the National Association of Medical Examiners, and the International Association of Coroners and Medical Examiners.

View the revised SUIDIRF

New NCFRP Guidance

The National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention is releasing a guidance document with tips and strategies for reviewing deaths either directly or indirectly related to COVID-19.

  • A directly-related death is defined as a death directly attributable to the virus.
  • Indirectly-related death occurs when unsafe or unhealthy conditions are present during any phase of a crisis.

We acknowledge the importance of documenting the impact of the COVID-19 health emergency on fetal, infant, and child mortality. We hope that this information will help fatality review teams use their findings from review of such deaths to inform national emergency response efforts about the needs of infants, children, and families who are directly and indirectly impacted by future public health emergencies.

A brief webinar has been recorded to highlight the strategies and to walk teams through this new resource.

Recorded webinar and guidance (NCFRP.org)

State Child Fatality Review Team Committee

The State Committee is a group of experts (PDF) throughout Texas. They want to reduce the number of preventable child deaths. The committee has three goals:

  • Understand the causes and incidence of child deaths in Texas;
  • Identify procedures for agencies to reduce the number of preventable child deaths; and,
  • Promote public awareness and make recommendations to the governor and the legislature. Changes in law, policy, and practice can reduce the number of preventable child deaths.

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is currently accepting applications for membership on the committee for the following positions:

  • Child Protective Services Specialist
  • Medical Examiner
  • Pediatrician experience in diagnosing and treating child abuse/neglect
  • Child abuse prevention specialist
  • Child educator
  • Representative of the Department of Public Safety
  • Police Chief
  • Sheriff
  • Emergency Medical Services Provider
  • Neonatologist
  • Chief Juvenile Probation Officer

The State Child Fatality Review Team Committee permanent members will appoint members to the State Child Fatality Review Team Committee to serve a term of three years. Applications closed January 15, 2021.

The SCFRT Committee tries to choose committee members that represent the diversity of all Texans. For that reason, the committee considers applicants' ethnicity, gender and geographic location.

The State Child Fatality Review Team (SCFRT) canceled the Feb. 19, 2021 meeting because of inclement weather. The vote for open positions will take place at the May 21, 2021 meeting. DSHS will notify applicants by June 4, 2021 if they have been selected. 

About the State Child Fatality Review Team Committee

The State Child Fatality Review Team Committee was created by Texas Family Code 264.501 to develop an understanding of the causes and incidences of child death in Texas, identify procedures within agencies represented on the committee to reduce the number of preventable child deaths, promote public awareness and make recommendations to the governor and legislature for changes in law, policy and practice to reduce the number of preventable child deaths. The committee must produce a formal biennial report that includes recommendations to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Department of Family and Protective Services. The biennial report shall be made available to the public and include information on the incidence and causes of child fatalities.

A committee member must regularly participate in committee meetings and may also have to participate in subcommittee meetings, projects, and presentations. Committee meetings will be held at least in Austin or at the call of the presiding officer. Committee members receive reimbursement for travel expenses to participate on the committee.

For more information about the committee or about applying to be on the committee, email cfrt@dshs.texas.gov.

Child Fatality Review Teams (CFRTs)

Local and regional CFRTs are working groups of community partners. They review child deaths on a local level from a public health perspective. Reviewing a child’s death helps identify strategies to decrease preventable child deaths. Local CFRTs:

  • Provide help, direction, and coordination to investigations of child deaths;
  • Promote collaboration among agencies involved in responding to child fatalities;
  • Try to understand the causes and incidence of child deaths in their county or counties;
  • Recommend changes to policy or procedures that will reduce preventable deaths; and,
  • Suggest changes to law, policy, or practice to the State CFRT.

Texas CFRTs (PDF) vary in size and the number of counties for which they review child deaths. Some teams review deaths for only one county while others review deaths for two or more. The largest number of counties a single Texas team covers is 26.

Texas seeks to have Child Fatality Review Teams in all parts of Texas. See the coverage on the Texas Map (PDF).


Helpful Websites

National Center for Fatality Review & Prevention Case Reporting System

National MCH Center for Child Death Review

ICAN National Center on Child Fatality Review

National Center for Fatality Review & Prevention
Includes 13 web-based training modules covering various aspects of fatality review. Half of the training modules focus on process work such as FIMR 101, CDR 101 and conducting maternal interviews. The other half of the training modules cover best practices such as facilitating successful meetings, incorporating health equity into fatality review and writing recommendations.

CDC - Sudden, Unexplained Infant Death (SUID) and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Includes Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Investigations (SUIDI), the SUIDI data collection form and SUIDI training materials.

National Clearinghouse of Child Abuse and Neglect

Department of Family and Protective Services, Child Protective Services (CPS)

Shaken Baby Alliance

SIDS Network

External links to other sites are intended to be informational and do not have the endorsement of the Texas Department of State Health Services. These external links may not be accessible to persons with disabilities. For more information about Child Fatality Review Teams or information regarding injury prevention in Texas, please email injury.web@dshs.texas.gov or call (512) 776-7373.

Last updated April 27, 2021