Following an Increase in Local Child Deaths, DCF Brings Agencies Together to Start Finding Solutions

For Immediate Release:
March 20, 2015

Contact:
John Harrell
Northeast Fla. Region Communications Director
(904) 233-7792

FOLLOWING AN INCREASE IN LOCAL CHILD DEATHS,
DCF BRINGS AGENCIES TOGETHER TO START FINDING SOLUTIONS

Many Child Deaths Are Preventable

JACKSONVILLE- In the first two and a half months of this year, the deaths of seven babies under the age of one in Duval County have been reported to the Florida Abuse Hotline.  In six of those deaths, unsafe sleep practices involving the babies were reported.  These include the controversial practice of cosleeping - where a parent sleeps with a baby next to them, significantly increasing the risk of suffocation, when the parent may roll over the baby in his or her sleep.  Along with drowning and inflicted trauma, unsafe sleep is one of the leading causes of child deaths in our area.

To bring attention to this growing problem, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) has invited 40 representatives from a number of organizations, including local law enforcement, hospitals, nonprofits and social service agencies, to see how to combat the increasing number of child deaths.  The meeting will take place on Tuesday, March 24 at 4 p.m. at DCF’s Jacksonville headquarters, located at 5920 Arlington Expressway.

“We want our community to understand the scope of the problem,” said DCF Region Director David Abramowitz.  “We will discuss what the agencies who directly serve children and their families are currently doing, and how our agencies can work together to prevent child deaths.”

The statistics show the need for our community to take action.

  • Last year, the number of child deaths in Duval County that were reported to the Florida Abuse Hotline increased by 30 percent compared to the previous year.   Additionally, the number of deaths involving infants- children under the age of one- increased by 60 percent when comparing 2014 to 2013.
  • More than two-thirds of all child deaths in Duval County that were reported to the Hotline over the past six years involved children under the age of one.
  • Of 51 infant death cases in Duval County over the past six years, it is possible that unsafe sleep practices may have been a contributing factor in 49 percent of the deaths.
  • Three of the leading causes of child deaths in Duval County are:
    • Cosleeping or unsafe sleep.
    • Inflicted trauma on children, with many of the cases involving perpetrators who are acquaintances of a single parent.
    • Drowning, with more than 60 percent of these cases involving unattended children who wandered off.

“We hope that this will be the first in a series of meetings to work toward finding solutions,” said Abramowitz.

For more information about preventable child fatalities, please visit http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/childfatality/

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