Under Child Protection Law (MCL 722.627b), the Michigan Child Death Review (CDR) program supports voluntary, multidisciplinary child death review teams in all 83 counties of Michigan. These teams, totaling over 1,400 professionals, meet regularly to review the circumstances surrounding the deaths of children in their communities. The average team is comprised of 15-20 members, and includes at a minimum, the county prosecutor, state, county and/or local law enforcement, representatives from county offices of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), local public health, the courts, and the county medical examiner. Additional membership is at the discretion of the local teams and may include EMS, mental health, education, pediatricians, hospital staff, other human service providers, or key community leaders. Teams also have discretion in selecting their coordinator and operating procedures. Each year, an average of over 80% of all child deaths due to external causes are reviewed. Smaller population counties are often able to review 100% of their deaths, including those from natural causes.
Support services have been provided to death review teams by the Michigan CDR program office at the Michigan Public Health Institute since 1996, through contract with MDHHS. Those services include an annual training for team members, technical assistance and support for participating in the review process and completion of reporting requirements, providing data and resource information on various topics related to child fatalities prevention initiatives, and coordinating the production of the annual report on child deaths in Michigan.
Child Protection Law also created a state-level team of professionals to “identify and make recommendations on policy and statutory changes pertaining to child fatalities, and to guide statewide prevention, education and training efforts.” This Child Death State Advisory Team has met quarterly since 1998. The director of MDHHS selects members, with no term limits established. The law requires representation from both the health and human service sides of MDHHS, law enforcement, a county prosecuting attorney and medical examiner, the Children’s Ombudsman and State Court Administrative Office. Other members have been appointed to add expertise as needed. MDHHS chairs the meetings, which generally include review of local CDR findings and current state-level issues affecting children’s health, safety and protection.