I am writing in response to the Oct. 21 story Florida child died after DCF bowed out. This is a tragedy that is currently being played out in communities across the nation. That is why President Obama and the Congress charged the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities (CECANF) with developing a national strategy for reducing these tragic incidents.
CECANF has held public meetings across the country for the past 19 months in advance of issuing a report in early 2016 with our findings and recommendations. We invited Miami Herald reporter Carol Marbin Miller to testify at one of those hearings as a result of her groundbreaking series, Innocents Lost.
What we have learned so far is that this issue is complex and one that child-welfare systems cannot address alone.
A national strategy must include a collective sense of responsibility for children’s safety; greater leadership and accountability across local, state and federal agencies; stronger data for decision-making and identifying children most at risk; and an emphasis on prevention and evidence-based safety practices.
Preventing these tragedies will require a multiagency process to identify, assess and treat children and families at risk, coupled with a safety-focused ecosystem in which child-protective services, healthcare, public health, education, law enforcement, families and other partners work together toward the common goal of eliminating child abuse and neglect fatalities.
For more information on the Commission, its work and findings, visit eliminatechildabusefatalities.sites.usa.gov
David Sanders, chairman, Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities, Washington, D.C.