Mayor Releases Child Fatality Review Report, Invests in Systemic Change to Save Lives

Crest of the City of Baltimore

Brandon M. Scott
Mayor,
Baltimore City
250 City Hall - Baltimore Maryland 21202
(410) 396-3835 - Fax: (410) 576-9425

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT
Jack French
(443) 248-3786

jack.french@baltimorecity.gov

City Leaders Commit to Fulfilling Recommendations to Prevent Childhood Fatalities

BALTIMORE, MD. (Friday, January 21, 2022) — Today, Mayor Brandon M. Scott, Baltimore City Health Department Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa, Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement Director Shantay Jackson, and Adam Rosenberg, Executive Director for Lifebridge Health’s Center for Hope, announced the publication of the City’s 2021 Child Fatality Review (CFR) Report. 

As outlined in the Mayor’s Comprehensive Violence Prevention Plan, Baltimore City agencies currently conduct Child Fatality Reviews (CFRs) of the deaths of individual young people, ages 17 and under. The goal is to help government, residents, and nonprofits understand why children die, with a specific focus on determining what interventions should be put in place to effectively prevent future fatalities. Under the leadership of Mayor Scott, this work has been taken to the next level — with a focus on coordination and policy change that yields long term impact and saves lives.

The 2021 Child Fatality Review Report covers child fatalities in Baltimore City through 2020. The review of child fatalities that took place in 2021 is currently underway. 

“As a city, we continue to lose too many of our young people to violence and neglect. These are children and teenagers who will never be able to grow up and realize their full potential,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “This report and its recommendations tie directly into our shared vision for equity throughout our city. An overwhelming majority of the young people we lose to violence each year are children of color. We cannot lift our Black and Brown communities out of poverty and overcome systemic disinvestment without specifically prioritizing the safety of our youth.” 

The Child Fatality Review Report contains both short- and long-term recommendations to prevent future child fatalities – including the need for additional funding for prevention strategies and support services, as well as policy recommendations. 

The report emphasizes the need for Baltimore City to develop a public health approach to violence, a cornerstone of the Mayor’s Comprehensive Violence Prevention Plan.

“The death of a child is a sentinel event, representing the worst possible outcome. Unfortunately, many of these deaths are preventable.  We know that one child’s death affects that child’s family and the community as a whole,” said Dr. Letita Dzirasa, Commissioner of the Baltimore City Health Department. “We also know that one death is one too many. We must prevent childhood fatalities at all costs and I thank Mayor Scott for his investment in this important work.”

Baltimore’s 300th homicide of 2021 was a five-year-old girl who suffered from abuse and neglect. 

“In the past five years, 208 children died in Baltimore City. In our close work together on child fatality reviews, we have found that 91 percent of these deaths were preventable,” said Shantay Jackson, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement. “Thanks to Mayor Scott’s historic ARPA investment in violence prevention and strong commitment to this work, we will be able to fund the difficult yet necessary systems changes that will save lives.”

Key findings from the Child Fatality Review Report include:

  • Homicide is the leading cause of child fatality, with 45 youth ages seven to 17 killed by a non-relative third party and 24 children from birth to age seven killed by a parent or caregiver;
  • Child fatality victims are predominantly (1) vulnerable infants and children, and (2) teens aged 16-17 struggling in school and involved in the juvenile justice system.
  • 90 percent of children who died were children of color, reflecting the structural racism that is a root cause of the harrowing social and environmental factors underlying child fatality.
  • Caregivers are struggling with substance use, mental health disorders, domestic violence, their own trauma, poverty, and living in violent neighborhoods. 
  • Two-thirds of the children were found to have four or more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), indicating a high level of trauma and adversity in their short lives.
  • Baltimore City’s health, child welfare, education, and criminal justice systems represent tremendous opportunity for prevention and intervention, but resources are sorely needed.

As part of an unprecedented investment in public safety, Mayor Scott has intentionally invested American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars to enact changes to policy, procedure, and systems that shift long-term youth outcomes and prevent future fatalities. This investment will allow for implementation of the recommendations in the Child Fatality Review Report. 

“LifeBridge Health’s Center for Hope is proud to be a member of our city's Child Fatality Review Team and works alongside our city and community partners to help curb violence that has a lifelong impact on our young children,” said Adam Rosenberg, Executive Director of the Center for Hope. “We not only lose a young soul through every child homicide due to gun violence or abuse, but each death also creates a ‘blast radius’ of other surviving children who witness or are related to the deceased. Our report today sets forth actions to prevent future children exposed to violence from being at greater risk becoming future victims of violence themselves.”  

The Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (MONSE), under the leadership of Director Shantay Jackson, and the Baltimore City Health Department (BHCD) will continue to partner with Baltimore City Public Schools, the Mayor’s Office of Children and Family Success, the Department of Social Services, and other partners to support the pre-existing work associated with the Child Fatality Review process. 

Read the full Child Fatality Review Report on the Baltimore City Health Department’s website

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