The Alabama Child Death Review System (ACDRS) was established by statute (Section 26-16-90 et seq.) in 1997. ACDRS has an annual budget of approximately $300,000 that is funded by Children’s First legislation. This legislation receives its financial support from the National Tobacco Settlement. These settlement monies are appropriated year to year. Those funds are supplemented by a Medicaid reimbursement agreement which provides additional funding exclusively for outreach and education efforts.
The program is administratively located within the Alabama Department of Public Health, Bureau of Health Promotion and Chronic Disease. Three full-time employees staff the program at the state level. These positions are a Director, a Public Health Educator, and an Administrative Assistant.
Alabama has both state and local CDR teams which are mandated. The Alabama Child Death Review System is a member of the Southeast Coalition of Child Death Review.
State Team: The team consists of 28 members and meets quarterly. The team is responsible for identifying trends that place children at risk and identifying interventions that will prevent further deaths. This team makes recommendations for changes in state statute, regulation or policy. They also support local teams training and service needs.
Local Teams: For most local teams, the District Attorney serves as the chair. Each team has a Coordinator who is responsible for receiving death certificates, collecting review information and convening the meetings. The Coordinator is also responsible for completing the data collection tool and sending the information to the State Office. There is at least one local team in each of Alabama’s 41 judicial circuits that meet at least once per year, and more as needed based upon caseload. These teams are responsible for making recommendations that are communicated to the State CDR Team. Local team reviews are retrospective and in-depth. Local team members serve as volunteers.
Local Alabama CDR teams review unexpected and unexplained deaths to children less than 18 years old. The State Alabama CDR Office is responsible for sending child death certificates to local teams to assist in their review process.
ACDRS’s mission is to understand how and why children die in Alabama, in order to prevent future child deaths.
Standardized data are collected for all review cases. The local Coordinator submits information to the State Office electronically via the National MCH Center’s online system. The CDR program utilizes department staff to analyze the data for the Annual Reports. The Alabama CDR program has access to all state vital statistics data for child death cases.
Alabama produces an Annual Report that is distributed to the Governor, Legislators, various State Agencies, and elsewhere throughout the state.
ACDRS findings have influenced policy changes in Alabama. Some statewide examples include Safe Infant Sleep initiatives, the Alabama SUIDI Law, the Secret Safe Place for Newborns, Statewide Abusive Head Trauma (formerly Shaken Baby Syndrome) awareness and prevention campaigns, changes in policies and regulations of licensed child day care centers, primary seatbelt legislation, and a recently enhanced Graduated Driver’s License law.
Alabama has a variety of protocols, including those for CDR meetings, child death investigations and confidentiality requirements.
ACDRS routinely offers both live and online training for all state- and local-level participants. ACDRS is also involved prominently in developing and offering SUIDI training in Alabama.
Last Updated: January 2017