New Jersey’s Child Fatality and Near Fatality Review Board (CFNFRB) was established in 1997 by legislation. New Jersey’s Child Death Review (CDR) Program is housed in the Department of Children and Families, without dedicated funding. There are four in-kind staff at the state level for the program.
The Department of Health and Senior Services received funding from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau to institute a Mortality/Morbidity Review Project. The goal of this project is to enhance the mortality/morbidity infrastructure in New Jersey by integrating functions of the New Jersey FIMR and Maternal Mortality Review in the Department of Health and Senior Services and the Child Fatality and Near Fatality Review in the Department of Children and Families
New Jersey has both state and local teams. The state level team is mandated by statute and the local teams are permitted. New Jersey also has a Sudden Unexplained Infant Death sub-committee and a suicide sub-committee.
State Team: (Chairperson – Dr. Kathryn McCans)
The CFNFRB is composed of 13 ex-officio members with expertise in the treatment and prevention of child abuse and neglect. The board also has public members. The CFNFRB meets monthly to review the deaths of active child protection cases or deaths in which the child was involved with child protective services within the last 12 months. By law, the board can determine which fatalities receive full review. The CFNFRB also serves as a Citizen’s Review Panel.
The CFNFRB has established three Regional Community-Based Review Teams with the support of the Regional Child Protection Centers that meet monthly. They look at all categories of child death with the exception of active child protection cases. By law, these teams must include at a minimum, a person experienced in prosecution, a person experienced in local law enforcement investigation, a medical examiner, a public health advocate, a physician, preferably a pediatrician and a casework supervisor from a field office of the Division of Child Protection and Permanency.
Deaths of children under the age of 18 years old are reviewable. The board reviews all deaths involving children who were involved with child protective services at the time of their death or near fatal incident and those children who were involved with child protective services within 12 months prior to their death or near fatal incident with the exception of SUID/SIDS/Undetermined cases of children under one year old. New Jersey uses the following definition to determine reviewable near fatalities: “A serious or critical condition, as certified by a physician, in which a child suffered a permanent mental or physical impairment, a life threatening injury or a condition that creates a probability of death within the foreseeable future”.
The local teams review all other fatalities involving the following causes: undetermined, substance use, malnutrition, dehydration, medical neglect, failure to thrive, sexual abuse, head trauma, fractures, blunt force trauma, and burns without obvious innocent reason, suffocation, asphyxia and drowning. The SUID subcommittee reviews SUIDS/SIDS/Undetermined cases of children under 12 months and the suicide subcommittee reviews all child suicides.
The purpose of the New Jersey CDR Program is to identify the relationship of childhood fatalities to government support systems and methods of prevention.
Standardized data reporting forms are completed for all reviews as required by statute. Data are collected on the reviews and compiled in a database managed by the Office of Performance Management and Accountability. Additionally, the New Jersey Mortality/Morbidity Review Project is working to implement a comprehensive mortality/morbidity review data information system.
New Jersey does produce an annual report. This report is posted on the Department of Children and Families web site.
The CFNFRB has meeting, confidentiality and child/infant death investigation protocols.
Last Updated: January 2020