BY KARISSA MILLER
The Child Fatality Prevention Team presented its annual report to the Iredell County Board of Commissioners Tuesday night.
The five-member team reviews individual child deaths and works to help the community understand why children are dying and offer solutions to prevent future fatalities.
“Primarily, we are there for case review. The case review is confidential,” Chairperson Amanda Treadway said.
Case reviews include the following:
• Records from local agencies;
• Birth certificate information;
• Death transcript information, including cause and manner of death; and
• Medical examiner investigative report, which means of death, autopsy findings and narrative summary.
“Due to case volume, we meet bimonthly as opposed to the State requirement of quarterly,” she said.
There were 18 child fatalities reviewed by the team in 2021. Delays caused by COVID-19 and a backlog in the medical examiner’s office slowed the group’s work.
In 2020, 11 children from birth to one year old died in Iredell County. Two deaths were attributed to birth defects, one death due to a perinatal condition, one death due to hypothermia (child was left in a car seat in a hot car) and seven to unspecified causes.
Suicides have been rising among North Carolina children ages 10 to 17 over the past decade, Treadway said, with older teens experiencing the largest increase. However, there have been suicides involving children under the age of 10 in Iredell County, she said.
Child firearm deaths surpassed motor vehicle injury deaths in 2020 and 2021 in North Carolina. In 2021, there were 121 child firearm deaths and 102 motor vehicle injury deaths for North Carolina.
CFPT made the following recommendations:
1. Support for a standardized means of exchanging records between public agencies working to investigate abuse or neglect while a child is receiving services.
2. Support for caseworkers involved with especially intense cases.
3. Bolster Safe Sleep education via existing community partners.
4. Increased public education on safe firearm storage and reducing access to lethal means for suicide prevention.
5. Support for “See Something Say Something” educational programs for suicide prevention.
♦ Following a closed session, the board approved the purchase of 4.96 acres of land on Deitz Road for $192,500. This land is near Jennings Park.
♦ Commissioners also approved the purchase of 23.26 acres at 320 B Street in Statesville not to exceed $815,000. This property is near the Iredell County Cooperative Extension Office and could provide space for future growth, officials stated.