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Child Services Oversight Committee Digs Into How Child Deaths Are Reviewed

(Brandon Smith/IPB News)

Lawmakers and child services stakeholders want to improve how Indiana reviews and reports on child deaths.

A newly-formed oversight committee, created by the General Assembly, met for the first time Thursday.

Child deaths are reviewed through two different channels in Indiana – the Department of Child Services and local teams that report to the Department of Health.

Lawmakers, led by Sen. Erin Houchin (R-Salem), want to dig deeper into those reviews.

“Was the death preventable?" Houchin said. "Were there missed opportunities … are there prevention recommendations?”

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Both DCS Director Terry Stigdon and State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box testified at Thursday’s meeting about how the systems work. And both pointed to needed improvements – notably, Box said, standardizing how local child fatality review teams operate.

“There’s not a consistency about how people are reporting, what years they’re investigating,” Box said.

Box emphasized the need to provide more resources from the state to help local teams improve.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.