Program Contact

John Schweitzer
Child Death Review Manager
Illinois Department of Children & Family Services
800 Roosevelt Road, Suite D-10
Glen Ellyn, IL 60187
Phone: 630-790-6800

CDRT Executive Director:
Tamara Skube
Illinois Department of Children & Family Services
1124 N. Walnut
Springfield, IL 62703
Phone: 217/ 786-6846
Fax: 217/557-4648

Chairperson of the CDRT Executive Council:
Joan Pernecke

Vice Chairperson of the CDRT Executive Council:
Daniel J. Cuneo


Program Description

The Illinois Child Death Review Teams were established in 1994 by statute (Section 515/1 et seq.). Illinois’s CDR Program has an annual budget of $107,500 and is funded by and housed out of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). DCFS provides support in kind and contracts with Hoyleton Youth and Family Services for the Executive Director Position and a part time employee.

There are currently 9 teams across the state of Illinois. These teams are Aurora, Champaign, Cook County A, Cook County B, East St Louis, Marion, Peoria, Rockford, and Springfield. All of the teams cover several counties except for the Cook County teams because they cover the City of Chicago. Each team elects their own Chairperson and Vice Chairperson. The Chairperson and Vice Chairperson run the meeting and serve on the Illinois Child Death Review Teams Executive Council.

Executive Council Chairperson:
The Chairperson and the Vice Chairperson from each of the nine teams make up the Executive Council. The Executive Council meets monthly to review the recommendations made by each of the teams, every other month with the Director of the Department of Children and Family Services to discuss DCFS recommendations, and quarterly to discuss the procedures common to the Child Death Review Teams. The Executive Council serves as one of the panels for Illinois Citizen’s Review Panel.

DCFS has a data sharing agreement with Department of Human Services. We receive information on all child deaths electronically from the Department of Human Services. This data is imported to our Child Death Review Database. The CDRT staff check to see if the child/ family had contact with the Department of Children and Family Services within the last year of the child’s death. If the child did have contact with DCFS then the child’s death is mandated for review. The appropriate team will review the child’s death. The teams are also allowed to review at their discretion, any child death that is sudden, unexpected, or unexplained.

After the review of the child death, the team decides if they can make a recommendation on the case. There are four types of recommendations a team can make:

  1. Primary prevention, i.e., Get Water Wise, Supervise
  2. DCFS, i.e., policy/ procedural change within the department
  3. Other systems, i.e. contacting hospitals or coroners regarding policies
  4. Case specific, i.e., concern for the surviving children

A response feedback loop has been created between the Child Death Review Teams Executive Council and the Department of Children and Family Services. The Executive Council meets with the Department of Children and Family Services’ Director every other month. The Director discusses the recommendations with the Executive Council and decides to agree or disagree with the response from the Department of Children and Family Services’ Deputy Directors. There is a specific timeline that the Director must follow when responding to recommendations. According to legislation, the Director has 90 days to review and reply to recommendations made by a team. After he submits this reply to the Executive Council, he has 90 days to submit an additional report that details how the recommendation will be implemented by the Department. Within 180 days of the additional report a further report must be submitted by the Director to the Executive Council stating the specific changes within the Department that have been made in response to the recommendation.

The purpose of the Illinois Child Death Review Teams is to reduce the number of preventable child deaths in Illinois.

Standardized data reporting forms are completed for all reviews. Child Death Review Teams’ data is stored in a database and analyzed by the DCFS Research Center. The Illinois Child Death Review Teams have access to state vital statistics. State vital statistics are reviewed and sent on to regional teams.

Annual Report
Illinois produces an annual report. The report is distributed to the Governor, Legislators, Coroners, State’s Attorneys, Law Enforcement agencies, Team Members and others as requested.

Prevention Initiatives

The Child Death Review Teams’ findings motivate prevention activities in Illinois.

Get Waterwise…Supervise
The campaign is aimed at reducing deaths of children of all ages. The promotion of the statewide public awareness campaign on child drowning, Get Water Wise – Supervise continues to be widely circulated throughout the state of Illinois. A drowning prevention committee has been developed that includes representatives from the Child Death Review Teams Executive Council, DCFS, Department of Human Services, Prevent Child Abuse Illinois, the Red Cross and the Illinois Department of Public Health. The posters and brochures are available in both English and Spanish. The campaign carries a powerful message to parents and caregivers about the importance of adult supervision at all times when children are in and around water. Billboards and bus cards were developed and displayed for 6 weeks starting in May 2011. Billboards were placed in Quincy, Springfield, Decatur, and Effingham. Bus cards were placed in Springfield (100), Peoria (50), Danville (15), Urbana (75), Granite City (50), Arlington Heights (600), Carbondale (20), Rock Island (50), and Decatur (50). The billboard included a picture of a toddler in a bath tub with the following message:

1) “I left her in the bath for just a minute.” A minute is all it takes for a child to slip silently underwater while her caregiver leaves the room to answer the phone.*
*Drowning is the leading cause of accidental death for young children. The good news is that these tragedies can be prevented. Watch kids near water, and save a life.

Representatives from the committee also attend caregiver and kid friendly events to hand out these materials and educate the general public. Posters, brochures, coloring books, and PowerPoints are available at no charge.

Prevention of Bedsharing
The Illinois Child Death Review Teams Executive Council agreed to work with DCFS on developing a protocol to establish uniform procedures for investigating a death that may be attributed to unsafe sleeping conditions. The goal of the Executive Council’s participation in this process was to ensure that Child Protection Investigation Specialists, Intact Family Specialists, Permanency Specialists, and Purchase of Services Staff who are servicing families understand safe sleeping practices for infants, understand how to investigate a death that may have been caused by an unsafe sleeping practice, and understand the different ways deaths can be classified on a death certificate when an unsafe sleeping practice has contributed to the death. DCFS has developed this protocol and the Executive Council revised the protocol multiple times with input from DCFS. The Executive Council continues to work with DCFS on how to implement this protocol with DCFS staff.

The Child Death Review Teams Executive Council promote the Safe Sleep for Baby Campaign aimed at reducing infant deaths. The nine child death review teams continue to see many infant deaths related to the caregiver and infant bedsharing. DCFS workers currently distribute a safe sleeping brochure to families with infants receiving services. The brochure, Safe Sleep for Your Baby, from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and, following the recommendations set forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), urges caregivers to room share and not bed share with infants. Billboards were placed across the state with the message

Rock A Bye Baby ALONE in your CRIB,
Lying on your BACK, NO Pillows, No Quilts,
Sleep SAFELY Baby ALL the time.
Questions? Call 1.800.432.7437 (SIDS of Illinois, Inc. number)

The CDRT staff distribute information on all of the following for free: Care Enough to Call, Get Water Wise, Supervise, How well do you know lover (paramour safety), Safe Sleep for Your Baby, Never Shake a Baby, and No Shame, No Blame, No Names (Safe Haven Law). CDRT has partnered with SIDS of Illinois, Inc. to distribute information on topics including Safe sleep, Safe Crib, Tummy Time Tips & Tools, Safe Sleep for my Grandbaby, and SIDS and the Childcare Provider. These brochures are also free. All brochures listed are offered in English and Spanish.

Illinois recently updated the Illinois Child Death Review Teams Protocol and Best Practices for the Multidisciplinary Review of Child Deaths in August 2015.

The Illinois Child Death Review Teams Executive Council and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services host a symposium every year for all team members. The symposium updates the knowledge and the skills of all members. It also offers a networking opportunity for the different teams.

Last Updated: January 2017