A newly released report of county data shows that the annual child mortality rate for Mecklenburg County children age birth to 17 years increased 16% (60:100,000 children) between 2015 and 2016. Of the 153 child deaths in 2016, 104, or 68%, were infants (defined as less than age 1) and 21% of all deaths in 2016 were caused by preventable injuries. These trends highlight the need to improve the safety and well-being of infants and children in our community.
The report is the work of the Mecklenburg County Child Fatality Prevention and Protection Team (CFPPT), a multi-disciplinary community committee mandated by the State to review all infant and child deaths on a yearly basis and to report back to the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) with its findings and recommendations, which are also shared with the State Child Fatality Task Force. Bob Simmons, executive director of Council for Children’s Rights and chair of the CFPPT, presented the 2018 report to the BOCC at their regular meeting on June 19.
The data suggests several social and environmental factors intersect to increase the risk of child death and adverse child health outcomes in our community. Among these, substance abuse and exposure to domestic violence and trauma represented the largest risk factors associated with infant and child death. Other areas of review included mental health needs of adolescents, teen suicide risk factors and the effects of social determinants like poverty and education level on overall child health and well-being.
In addition to an analysis of local data, the report presented seven recommendations for the BOCC’s support for implementing and making strong investments in evidence-based policies and programs which support child safety and health today, as well as contribute to their long-term well-being and success.
Seven recommendations for Child Fatality Prevention are:
- Implement and support the recommendations and strategies for Early Care and Education and Child Family Stability as outlined in the “Leading on Opportunity Report” of the Opportunity Task Force.
- Support evidence-based programs, such as Triple P and Nurse Family Partnerships, which focus on improving parenting skills, parent/child relationships, and birth outcomes.
- Support funding for public health initiatives and community strategies aimed at improving family structure, health, birth outcomes, and economic mobility.
- Continue to fund and expand School Based Mental Health Services (SBMH) within CMS to create great access and early intervention for at risk children.
- Increase funding to CMS for a social worker in every school, especially in schools that show a higher utilization/need of SBMH services. Funding for increasing the ratio of school counselors to students in each school, increase support to teachers for children to reach/exceed the third grade reading level.
- Support and expand Community Development-Community Policing to help improve the efficiency of responding to the increasing number of children in the community exposed to trauma.
A Link to the full report for download is included here: 2018 CFPPT Annual Report