Commission: US Lacks Strategies to Lower Child Abuse Deaths
By David Crary, AP National Writer NEW YORK Mar 17, 2016
The United States lacks coherent, effective strategies for reducing the stubbornly high number of children who die each year from abuse and neglect, a commission created by Congress reported Thursday after two years of sometimes divisive deliberations.
According to federal data, the number of such deaths has hovered at around 1,500 to 1,600 annually in recent years. But citing gaps in how this data is compiled, the report suggests the actual number may be as high as 3,000 a year.
Commission chairman David Sanders said a goal of zero maltreatment deaths was realistic.
"We looked at the airline industry — no one accepts a plane crash anymore. We can get that way with child fatalities," said Sanders, executive vice president of Casey Family Programs.
The report made dozens of recommendations, including expanding safe-haven programs for abandoned infants and enlisting a broader range of community organizations to help often-overburdened child protection service workers.
"We need a system that does not rely on CPS agencies alone to keep all children safe," the report said. "Other systems become key partners, including the courts, law enforcement, the medical community, mental health, public health, and education. Even neighbors who come into regular contact with young children and families are part of a public health approach."....
At the state level, the report decried high caseloads and stressful working conditions for child protection workers.
"Shortages of workers, funds and training may mean that inexperienced workers are tasked with making life-or-death decisions with insufficient preparation or support," said the report....