[HISTORY: Adopted by the Suffolk County Legislature 3-23-2016 by L.L. No. 9-2016. Amendments noted where applicable. Uncodified sections of certain local laws amending these provisions are included at the end of this chapter.]
This Legislature hereby finds and determines that Suffolk County has a responsibility to serve its most vulnerable residents, especially its children. This Legislature also finds and determines that establishing a mechanism for an independent, comprehensive, multiagency and multidisciplinary review of child deaths will allow Suffolk County officials to better understand trends and patterns regarding how and why children die in Suffolk County, and take action that can prevent other such deaths and improve the health and safety of Suffolk County's children. This Legislature finds that the establishment of a local, independent Child Fatality Review Team will promote cooperation and communication among the various County departments, local agencies and programs involved in investigating child fatalities and help facilitate the provision of services needed by children and families.
Therefore, the purpose of this chapter is to establish a Child Fatality Review Team to identify preventable social and family circumstances that contribute to child fatalities and to provide recommendations regarding the investigation and prevention of child deaths.
[Amended 5-16-2017 by L.L. No. 17-2017]
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- The New York State Office of Children and Family Services.
There is hereby established, in accordance with all applicable state and local laws, a Child Fatality Review Team ("Team") to examine the facts and circumstances relating to child fatalities.
The Team shall consist of the following members:
The Director of the Department of Health Services, or his or her designee;
The Director of Child Protective Services, or his or her designee;
A representative of the New York State Office of Children and Family Services;
The Director of the Department of Social Services, or his or her designee;
The Chief Medical Examiner, or his or her designee;
The District Attorney, or his or her designee;
The County Attorney, or his or her designee;
The Commissioner of the Suffolk County Police Department, or his or her designee;
A representative from the New York State Police;
The Director of the Division of Emergency Medical Services in the Department of Health Services, or his or her designee;
A pediatrician or comparable medical professional with expertise in child abuse, maltreatment or pediatric forensics, to be appointed by the County Executive, subject to legislative approval;
The Chief Administrative Judge of the Family Court, or his or her designee;
A pediatric radiologist with a subspecialty or expertise in child abuse, to be appointed by the County Legislature; and
A representative of a local hospital, to be appointed by the County Legislature.
[Added 6-21-2016 by L.L. No. 20-2016]
The members appointed by the County Legislature shall serve for a term of two years. Any vacancy shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment.
The Team shall meet at least four times a year. The Medical Examiner shall serve as Chairperson of the Team and shall convene the first meeting of the Team within 90 days after the effective date of this chapter.
The Team will review individual child fatalities and aggregate data relating to child fatalities and formulate recommendations regarding methods of improving the protection of children in order to decrease the future incidence of child fatalities in Suffolk County.
The Team shall have access to all records, except those protected by statutory privilege, within 21 days of receipt of a request.
The Team may request information from any agency as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this section, in accordance with all applicable laws, rules and regulations, including, but not limited to, laws related to attorney-client privilege, attorney work product, material prepared for litigation and disclosure of agency records under the Public Officers Law. The Team shall keep confidential all information that it receives and protect the privacy of all individuals involved in the child fatality cases that it reviews to the extent provided by law.
Suffolk County shall submit protocols to OCFS for the initial approval of a local Child Fatality Review Team, pursuant to §§ 422-b and 20(5) of the Social Services Law, using the boilerplate language contained within the OCFS Protocols for Child Fatality Review Team template.
[Added 5-16-2017 by L.L. No. 17-2017]
[Amended 5-16-2017 by L.L. No. 17-2017]
All meetings conducted and all reports and records made and maintained, and books and papers obtained by the Team shall be confidential and not open to the general public except by court order.
The Child Fatality Review Team shall prepare and submit an annual report to the Clerk of the Legislature and to OCFS by December 31 of each calendar year, summarizing the Team's activities and recommendations in accordance with the format prescribed by OCFS, which may include a minimum of the following information:
Number of deaths reviewed, in the categories set forth in Social Services Law § 20(5), which includes the death of a child:
Whose care and custody or custody and guardianship was transferred to an authorized agency, excluding any child who at the time of death was residing in a residential facility/center by OCFS;
For whom there is an open Child Protective Services case;
For whom there is an open Preventative Services case;
For whom a report was made to the Statewide Central Register; or
Which is unexplained or unexpected.
Number of team meetings, including whether a review was immediate, concurrent, retrospective or "other."
Data from team reviews, including existing patterns and trends, subsequent findings and identified recommendations for improved or best practice for the local Department of Social Services, community interventions and the practices and functioning of the team.
Members of the Child Fatality Review Team, persons attending a meeting of the Team and persons who present information to the Team shall have immunity from civil and criminal liability for all reasonable and good faith actions taken pursuant to this chapter and shall not be questioned in any civil or criminal proceeding regarding any opinions formed as a result of a meeting of the Child Fatality Review Team.
This chapter shall apply to all actions occurring on or after the effective date of this chapter.