WE NEED YOUR HELP NOW!AB 2660 (See below) has passed the California Legislature without one vote in opposition. It has been on the Governor's desk awaiting signature for 2 weeks now. Only 2 weeks left. Please go to his website, use "contact me" and send him a letter (as an individual) supporting AB 2660 as soon as possible.My letter is below as a template.Jeoffry B. Gordon, MD, MPHGovernor Gavin Newsom
Sacramento, California 95814
Subject: SIGN AB 2660 (MAIENSCHEIN)
Dear Governor Newsom:
I am a retired family physician and for three years I have been a voluntary member of the federally mandated California’s Citizens Review Panel (CRP) on Critical Incidents (child fatalities/homicides due to abuse and neglect) established by the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA). There are between 100 and 150 known child deaths (homicides) due to abuse and neglect in California each year (approximately equal to the number of deaths from childhood cancer), each one tragic and unacceptable. Prior to this service I was a family physician for 40 years. As a front line clinician I was totally ignorant of the issues involving California agencies’ management of child welfare, which is especially inadequate as far as child fatalities are concerned.
Under current law California’s counties have primary responsibly for health and welfare, including child welfare and preventing child fatalities. Under current law, child welfare agencies must report county child fatalities and near fatalities to the Department of Social Services. Also current law states that counties themselves may have Child Death Review Teams (CDRTs). Independently and without coordination Country Death Review Teams (when they exist) report fatalities to the Department of Public Health. It greatly concerns me that given your dedication to child health and ACES, not all counties have these teams and those that exist do not report in a consistent manner. Until 2008 California’s system was functioning rather well, coordinated by a state interagency, multidisciplinary Child Death Review Council. During the fiscal crisis of 2008, the state Council and the county CDRTs were defunded by the Department of Justice. With the loss of only $150,000 these functions continued in a very diminished and chaotic form without oversight by a state coordinating council, essentially in an uncoordinated, haphazard fashion with diminishing reliability. This resulted in a total loss of impact on prevention or of policy dealing with this tragic problem at the state level. Fatality reporting to DSS is not even collated with reporting to DPH. I know from 3 years of personal experience in Sacramento that currently the efficiency, effectiveness and impact of the child maltreatment death review effort is significantly impaired and is essentially worthless. This is a horrible, tragic deficiency.
AB 2660 is designed to fix much of this problem. It will provide valid, reliable, efficient data to intervene preventively. Programmatically it mandates both county or regional CDRTs and a state Council and requires the Attorney General annually to provide funding for the system. Also at the county level, CDRTs when they exist are constituted by professionals employed by and representing local agencies or not for profit organizations as part of their on-going job responsibilities. AB 2660 contains language allowing small rural counties (with more resource constraints) to collaborate with other counties for purposes of this activity to minimize their expense and effort. Our volunteer CRP is currently creating (at no cost to the state) a “best practices tool kit” for CDRTs to develop, support, optimize and systematize their functions, thus minimizing expenses for management. AB 2660 has passed the Assembly with no opposition. In sum, this very important piece of legislation allows the state to deal with very tragic and unacceptable circumstances in a much more efficient and effective way. AB 2660 was passed by the Legislature without any opposition votes. I strongly encourage you to sign this important bill.
Jeoffry B. Gordon, MD, MPH