For the past 20 years Sacramento County’s Child Death Review Team (CDRT) has investigated the death of every child in the County from birth to age 18. This 20-member multidisciplinary team reviews deaths to identify causes and publishes an annual report with recommendations to improve conditions and prevent future deaths and injuries.
Disproportionate African American child deaths have been a consistent and troubling finding throughout the history of the CDRT. From 1990 to 2009, 787 African American children died at a disproportionate rate of 98 per 100,000 compared to Caucasian children who died at a rate of 57 per 100,000. During that time, African American children comprised 12% of the child population, but accounted for 22% of Sacramento County’s child deaths.
In order to address this ongoing crisis, Supervisor Serna convened a first-of-its-kind Blue Ribbon Commission comprised of stakeholders, service providers, health professionals, community leaders, and policy makers late last year. The Commission will thoroughly analyze current data sets, explore best practices and successful policies implemented in other communities, and develop a strategic plan for targeted intervention to reduce all childhood deaths, especially those in our African American communities.
Subcommittees have been formed to address particular aspects of this issue, active community outreach will also inform the Commission’s efforts, and the Commission will convene four to five meetings during an expected twelve month period.
The Commission’s three Subcommittees include:
- Practices & Strategies Co-Chairpersons: Chet Hewitt and Toni Moore
- Data & Research Co-Chairpersons: Sheila Boxley and Al Rowlet
- Community Outreach & Input Co-Chairpersons: Kevin Johnson and Phil Serna
The intent of the Commission’s work is to develop a Blue Ribbon Report that will be presented to the Board of Supervisors in early 2013. The Report’s conclusions will provide very well-thought-out and deliberate recommendations to stem African American child deaths in Sacramento County.