• September 2014
  • Vol. 15, No. 8

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Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities

The Protect Our Kids Act of 2012, signed by President Barack Obama on January 14, 2013, established the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities (CECANF). The Commission is composed of 12 members, 6 appointed by the President and 6 appointed by party leaders from both sides of the U.S. House and Senate. Its mission is to develop a national strategy and recommendations for reducing fatalities across the country resulting from child abuse and neglect.

Commission Chairman, Dr. David Sanders, said:

"Congress and the President charged the Commission with leading an important initiative. My fellow commissioners and I are committed to fulfilling our mandate to develop a national strategy and recommendations for reducing fatalities resulting from child abuse and neglect. This work is critical and we cannot do it alone."
The Protect Our Kids Act charges the Commission with:

  • Raising visibility and building awareness about the problem
  • Reviewing data and best practices to determine what is and is not working
  • Helping to identify solutions
  • Reporting on findings and making recommendations to drive future policy

The Commission is holding public meetings across the country during which testimony is heard from stakeholders from multiple child-serving systems. When asked about the importance of tackling this issue from such a broad angle, by gathering such a variety of perspectives across several systems, Commissioner David Rubin said:

"The first assumption many people make when they hear about child abuse fatalities is that this issue is largely one borne by the child welfare system in this country. The truth is that the majority of children who die from abuse and neglect are never known to child protective services. However, they are often known to their pediatricians or to a home visiting program or to other social services providers. It is our job to think about these multiple touch points and how we can leverage them to ensure that children are not slipping through the cracks."

Given the broad nature of the Commission's work to review best practices and identify solutions, the Honorable Patricia Martin, also a Commissioner, said:

"In developing a national strategy, it is important that the Commission explore successes and failures so that solutions can be tailored to the needs of different communities. For example, an intervention that works in an urban environment may not work in a rural environment. We need to identify areas of agreement, as well as explore areas that are not yet settled."

Commissioner Rubin added that the public meetings have been a great opportunity to apply a blend of national and local perspectives to the challenges of actually reducing child abuse fatalities. 

"We've already had terrific discussions about challenges to measuring child abuse fatalities consistently, how data can help us identify families at highest risk for a child abuse fatality, and how resolving confidentiality challenges with regard to sharing of data might help us be more proactive in prevention efforts," said Rubin. "Perhaps the best moments in those hearings have been the opportunity for local organizations and community members to provide their perspective; as you do so, you often find that the most concrete recommendations come from those folks who are working on the ground to address this issue every day."

The next public meeting is scheduled for September 22–23 in Denver, CO. For more information on the Commissioners, including biographies, upcoming public meetings and meeting transcripts, and the Commissioner's blog, visit:


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