Kaufman County’s Child Fatality Review Team has been revitalized and hopes to begin reviewing cases again in March.
The team was initially formed in 2009 as one of numerous teams across the state.
Amy Bailey, the state CFRT coordinator, said teams represent more than 200 of the state’s counties.
The teams serve under the auspices of the Texas Department of State Health Services.
They review child fatality cases, looking for local trends and ways to address trends that are noted.
For example, the Kaufman County team developed a program for school districts to address texting and driving among teen drivers.
The information is also forwarded to the governor’s office and lawmakers to address possible changes in laws and policies directed at reducing deaths.
Sharna Ellis, who serves as the team’s presiding officer, said the texting program was so successful that it was demonstrated for the state meeting in 2012.
The team has been inactive for three or four years.
Patricia Rivera, with the state health services regional office in Arlington, said there are at least 94 child death cases in the county covering the period from 2009-2016. About 60 are pending reviews.
The team reviews cases confidentially, and its meetings are not public.
The information goes into a state data base, and the state may also implement programs to address preventable child fatalities.
Kaufman Police Chief Dana Whitaker noted that it is tough on police officers to work a child fatality.
The team plans to meet quarterly.
Since the team was instituted, electronic death records have made sharing information more timely. Keith said instead of reviewing deaths that are months and perhaps years old, the cases should be within recent months.
Among agencies and officials represented are justices of the peace, police, district attorney, hospital, Child Appointed Special Advocates, Child Protective Services, Kaufman County Children’s Advocacy Center, Kaufman Christian Help center, juvenile probation, county clerk and Kaufman schools.
As Bailey noted, any of the participants could have information relevant to a case.