The North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force (CFTF) is a legislative study commission that examines data surrounding child deaths, strategies to prevent child deaths, and makes recommendations to the governor and General Assembly to prevent child death, prevent abuse and neglect, and support the safety and well-being of children.
The CFTF is connected to the broader NC Child Fatality Prevention System created by state statute in 1991. This system includes multidisciplinary teams across the state who review child deaths for the purpose of identifying and responding to gaps and deficiencies in public systems that are designed to prevent child death or maltreatment. The Child Fatality Task Force is the “policy arm” of this system and does not review individual cases of child deaths.
CFTF recommendations to prevent child death and promote child well-being become part of the CFTF’s annual “Action Agenda” which is included in an annual report to the governor and General Assembly. Agenda items may recommend changes to laws or policies, state funding of projects or programs, or encourage other initiatives. During its more than three decades of work, the Task Force has been instrumental in advancing legislation that saves children’s lives and promotes their safety and well-being. A summary of Task Force accomplishments since 1991 is located here on this website.
Members: There are 36 members of the Task Force according to statute — Four appointed by the Governor; 10 appointed by the Speaker of the House (including 5 legislators); 10 appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate (including 5 legislators); and 12 Ex Officio (by virtue of their position in state government). Most member seats address areas of expertise relevant to child health and safety.
Leadership and Committees: The CFTF is chaired by one or two members elected by the CFTF. There are three committees: Perinatal Health (focused on healthy pregnancies, birth outcomes, and infants), Intentional Death Prevention (focused on homicide, suicide, abuse and neglect), and Unintentional Death Prevention (focused on motor vehicle accidents, fires, drowning, poisoning, etc.). The committees are co-chaired by one member of the CFTF plus one additional volunteer with issue expertise. The Task Force also has a full-time Executive Director. Each committee consists of 12 – 14 Task Force members as well as volunteers who represent areas of expertise and/or organizations relevant to the committee’s area of study. Committees bring issues for consideration to the full Task Force, and the full Task Force determines what recommendations are included in the annual Action Agenda.
Study Process and Meetings: Task Force meetings and committee meetings occur during a four to seven-month study cycle between legislative sessions, with 2-3 meetings for each committee and 3-4 meetings for the full CFTF. There are dozens of presentations per study cycle by experts and leaders representing state, local, and national agencies, academic institutions, as well as state and community programs. These presentations form the basis for the development of evidence-driven recommendations, as the Task Force learns about:
- DATA: The Task Force examines data related to deaths and injuries to children – broadly and also drilling down into specific topics. For example, child death and infant mortality data from the State Center for Health Statistics; suicide or firearm injury data from the NC Violent Death Reporting System; or data on infant deaths in unsafe sleep environments from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
- PREVENTION STRATEGIES: Subject matter experts from academia, state agencies, local or national programs explain the evidence behind prevention strategies, programs, laws and policies that have an impact on reducing child deaths, preventing child maltreatment, and promoting child well-being.
- ISSUES IDENTIFIED IN CHILD DEATH REVIEWS: Some issues are studied by the CFTF as a result of aggregate information or recommendations that come from teams that review child deaths.