Sherrod Brown working on federal child abuse data system following deaths

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U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, left, speaks with N.H. Rep. Tom Sherman, D-Rye, prior to an economic roundtable discussion at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, N.H., Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. Sen. Brown is weighing a run for in 2020 presidential race. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Sen. Sherrod Brown said the proposed Child Abuse Death Disclosure Act, a bipartisan Senate bill he’s sponsored with Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), would be the first step in helping lower abuse deaths.

“This is partly in response to the death of Takoda Collins,” Brown told WDTN.com in a conference call on Wednesday. “It wouldn’t have helped in this case and it doesn’t stop a kid from being abused, but over time it should mean child welfare and law enforcement agencies should be able to respond preemptively and more thoroughly than before when they didn’t have as accurate information.”

COVERAGE: Bills fighting abuse deaths have run into walls in Ohio

Brown said the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System reported 1,700 abuse deaths in 2017. But that information is often inaccurate.

He said the current system doesn’t give the full number of child abuse deaths. In a press release from December, the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities recommended significant reforms to improve data collection and promote cooperation between agencies.

Reforms proposed under the Child Abuse Deaths and Disclosure Act:

  • Require states to develop a multidisciplinary team to annually examine the circumstances of all child abuse-related deaths. That information would be submitted to the National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention. A taskforce would develop recommendations to prevent abuse deaths and submit an annual report to state and federal officials
  • Require the Department of Health and Human Services to consult with state and local officials, child welfare agencies, pediatricians and law enforcement to develop a standard definition related to child abuse deaths or child maltreatment fatalities.
  • Recommend training and best practices on child maltreatment fatalities for review teams that would address disparities in treatment by officials or outcomes in child maltreatment fatalities based on race or culture.

Brown said data collection would be the first step in helping agencies combat abuse deaths.

“We don’t have an accurate count,” Brown said. “There’s no federal data collection. We need to know who were the children that died, what they died from and what the abuse was. We can’t solve the problem if we don’t have accurate data.”

Brown and Blunt introduced the legislation in the Senate last month.

Read the full proposed bill here:

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