Child Fatality Review Team
Child Fatality Review Teams are multi-disciplinary, multi-agency panels that review all child deaths regardless of the cause. In Texas, formation of child fatality review teams in each county is authorized by Chapter 264 of the Family Code. These teams are uniquely qualified to understand what no single agency or group working alone can: how and why children are dying in their community.
CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Hospitals & Clinics, East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare Center, Mental Health Professionals, Public Health Professionals, Smith County District Attorney’s Office, Smith County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Department of Family & Protective Services, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Department of State Health Services and Tyler Police Department.
The death of a child less than 18 years is reviewed if the case is a natural death of a resident of Smith County or if it is an injury death that occurred within the boundaries of Smith County, regardless of residence. Stillbirths are not reviewed.
Categories of deaths requiring extensive review are: homicide, injuries, suicide, undetermined manner, sudden or unexpected deaths including SIDS, all Medical Examiner cases, all cases with previous Department of Family & Protective Services Children’s Protective Services involvement and all cases investigated by law enforcement.
The presiding officer and the team coordinator compile summary information for each death to be reviewed. These summaries are provided to the other team members who search their files and obtain the necessary data for a review. Each member presents their agencies investigation and/or historical information on the cases and families. Each case ends with the question, “Was this a preventable death?” If the answer is yes, the team is asked to identify possible interventions. The team discussion could be lead to the recommendations for the State Committee.
The review process adheres to strict rules of confidentiality. Team members sign a confidentiality agreement and may not disclose any confidential information outside of the team. Records acquired by the team are exempt from disclosure under the Open Records Law, Chapter 552 of the Government Code. Information, documents and records are confidential and are not subject to subpoena or discovery and may not be introduced into evidence in any civil or criminal proceedings. Furthermore, the child protective services member of a team may not disclose information from the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services records that would identify an individual who reported an allegation of child abuse and/or neglect.
For more information, contact the Smith County CFRT Coordinator, Rubyth@cacsmithcounty.org.