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State explores ways to improve child fatality review system

Brandon Smith/IPB News

Indiana lawmakers want to improve the system for reviewing child deaths.

Most counties have child fatality review teams responsible for helping the state identify trends and possibly prevent future deaths.

These mostly volunteer teams typically include a coroner, a pediatrician or family practice doctor and representatives from the local health department, Indiana Department of Child Services, a local school district, the prosecutor’s office, the mental health care community and first responders. 

But there’s not much standardization across the state. And that can lead to incomplete data. 

Micha Burkert, Indiana Department of Health legislative director, said seven new hires at the state level could assist local teams.

“It would be around $441,000 to get that staff here at Department of Health,” Burkert said.

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Those hires could help with data entry, standardization and even setting up teams in counties that still need them.

Legislators are reviewing that recommendation as part of a study committee on child services.

Contact reporter Brandon at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.