Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tracking Child Abuse Fatalties: Congress Hears GAO Recommendations on Improving the Body Count

Once, I was aligned with the guy who wrote that if it was important, I had learned about it in kindergarten.

Now, not so much: if it's really important, I'll probably learn about it on Twitter.

Twitter brought news that the House Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Human Resources is holding a hearing today on child abuse fatalities. Link: http://1.usa.gov/r0ZkWB

No real surprise: the statistics are not accurate.  The AP news report is here

The GAO report was just released.  Judging from the GAO testimony at the hearing, GAO did keep the focus on getting the numbers right. GAO summary (note that not one "related term" on that page mentions prevention); link to GAO Child Fatalities Report

Reading through the testimony quickly, while there is much discussion of resources needed, there is only one brief mention so far of the cost of abuse (at p. 9 of Every Child Matters) - and that's only the dollars spent, not the dollars and human potential lost. In these time, cost and benefits are critical parts of policy.
The background of the hearing:
Focus. The hearing will review data on child deaths due to maltreatment, determine how to improve the accuracy of this data, and review how improving the accuracy of this data may help prevent future fatalities.

Background. According to State reports, over 1,700 children died nationally in FY 2009 due to maltreatment. However, research has shown that these reports may substantially understate the number of child victims each year. To gain a clearer understanding of this issue, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has reviewed what is known about the circumstances of child deaths and near deaths due to maltreatment, State approaches to gathering and reporting this information, and what the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is doing to support the collection and accurate reporting of this information. GAO will testify about the findings of their review at the hearing,
Not much on prevention - one witness mentions state initiatives, including SBS public awareness campaigns (should have said new parent education) - but seems to recognize the need for incident analysis to inform prevention (just imagine if we spent the same amount of money to investigate the deaths of 50 children and recommend prevention action as NTSB spends to investigate the cause of a plane crash that caused the deaths of 50 people).

Perhaps not surprisingly, Caylee Anthony is mentioned in testimony. [Update: hearing schedule just coincidence]

While I didn't see any Tweet about the hearing before yesterday (thanks, @youngchildfacts), I was pleased to see PCAKy Tweet about prevention and home visiting (Link; Link).

For what it's worth, I plan on bringing that focus on prevention to the Committee's attention...

FYI - The Subcommittee will take testimony for the record up to two weeks (7.26.2011) after the hearing: instructions for submission are here on this page - click here to make a submission

The witness list (click on links for testimony):

Kay E. Brown
Director Education, Workforce, and Income Security, U.S. Government Accountability Office
(Testimony) - http://waysandmeans.house.gov/UploadedFiles/Kay_E_Brown_Testimony.pdf

Tamara Tunie
Actor, Law and Order: SVU and Spokesperson, National Coalition to End Child Abuse Deaths

Theresa Covington
M.P.H., Director, The National Center for Child Death Review

Michael Petit
President and Founder, Every Child Matters Education Fund

Carole Jenny, M.D.
Director, Child Protection Program, Hasbro Children’s Hospital

Jane McClure Burstain, Ph.D.
Senior Policy Analyst, Center for Public Policy Priorities

PCAKY PreventChildAbuseKY
Is home visitation an effective way of preventing child abuse and neglect? Learn the answer to this question and more http://ow.ly/5rSVs

youngchildfacts Young Child Facts
7/12 Congressional Hearing on Child Maltreatment http://1.usa.gov/r0ZkWB Read more on maltreatment under age 5 http://bit.ly/pQfQvX

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