Cook County Health recently released their final evaluation report for Project CHILD (Collaboration of Helpers Lowering Deaths of Children). Cook County is one of five sites selected to participate in the Child Safety Forward initiative with technical assistance led by Social Current.
Child Safety Forward is a nationwide, 3-year demonstration initiative funded by OVC to develop multidisciplinary strategies and responses to reduce fatalities or near-death injuries due to child abuse or neglect.
The report reveals that an average of 10,000 serious child injuries or deaths due to suspected abuse or neglect are reported annually in Illinois. It was also found that 50 percent of the children who die from maltreatment are unknown to the child welfare system, in part due to gaps in knowledge, skill, and communication among the different agencies involved in child health.
To close these gaps, Cook County Health convened a multidisciplinary group of community stakeholders who work to support families, including healthcare providers, community health workers, maternal infant health providers, educators, and social service providers in urban Cook and rural Peoria and Vermilion counties.
Key elements of the project strategy included the following:
- Using simulation exercises to train investigators from child welfare and law enforcement from all three counties in how to better assess families for suspected child abuse, neglect, or dangerous living conditions.
- Convening multidisciplinary team training for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and law enforcement investigators from Peoria and Vermilion counties to hone their collaborative investigative and decisionmaking skills.
- Using geospatial risk analysis mapping to demonstrate neighborhood “hot spots” of interpersonal violence and unsafe sleep practices to better plan the implementation of services, including input from community members.
- Developing a sustainability plan.
The simulation training proved to be among the most effective of these elements.
In addition to Cook County Health, OVC funded four other sites under the FY 2019 Reducing Child Fatalities and Recurring Child Injuries Caused by Crime Victimization demonstration initiative:
- Indiana Department of Health
- Saint Francis Hospital, Connecticut
- Sacramento County’s Child Abuse Prevention Council, California
- Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
Learn more about the Child Safety Forward initiative and each demonstration site.