HOUSE BILL NO. 317
AS AMENDED BY
HOUSE AMENDMENT NOS. 1 & 3 AND
HOUSE AMENDMENT NO. 1 TO HOUSE AMENDMENT NO. 3
AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 3, TITLE 31 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO CHILD WELFARE.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:
Section 1. Amend Chapter 3 of Title 31 of the Delaware Code by redesignating Subchapters II through VI thereof as Subchapters III through VII, respectively, and by adding thereto a new Subchapter II, to read as follows:
"Subchapter II. Child Death Review Commission.
§ 320. Declaration of Legislative Intent.
The General Assembly hereby declares that the health and safety of the children of the State of Delaware will be safeguarded if deaths of children under the age of eighteen are reviewed in order to provide recommendations to alleviate those practices or conditions which impact the mortality of children. This subchapter establishes the Child Death Review Commission (for purposes of this subchapter, the "Commission").
§ 321. Organization and Composition.
(a) The following shall be members of the Commission: the State Attorney General, the Secretary of the State Department of Health and Social Services, the Secretary of the State Department of Services to Children, Youth and Their Families, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the State Medical Examiner, and the Superintendent of the Delaware State Police, or the designee of any of the preceding persons. Additionally, the following shall be appointed by the Governor as members of the Commission: (i) A representative of the Medical Society of Delaware specializing in each of pediatrics, neonatology, obstetrics and perimatology; (ii) a representative of the Delaware Nurses Association; (iii) a representative of the National Association of Social Workers; (iv) a representative of the Police Chiefs' Council of Delaware who is an active law enforcement officer; (v) a representative of the New Castle County Police Department; and (vi) two child advocates from state-wide non-profit organizations. A Chairperson of each regional child death review panel established pursuant to Subsection (d) hereof shall also serve as members of the Commission. The term of members appointed by the Governor shall be three years and shall terminate upon the Governor's appointment of a new member to the Commission. The members of the Commission and of the regional panels shall serve without compensation.
(b) The Commission shall, by affirmative vote of a majority of all members of the Commission, appoint a chairperson from its membership for a term of one year. The Commission shall meet at least semi-annually.
(a) Meetings of the Commission and regional panels shall be closed to the public.
(c) The Commission shall by resolution passed by a majority of its members establish at least one but no more than three regional child death review panels. Members of the Commission shall appoint representatives to each regional panel such that the regional panel reflects the disciplines of the Commission. The Commission shall also appoint to each regional panel (i) a representative from each of the three police departments which investigate the majority of child deaths in the region covered by the panel, and (ii) a citizen of the region interested in child death issues.
(e) Each regional panel shall have the powers, duties and authority of the Commission as delegated by the Commission. Each regional panel shall, by affirmative vote of a majority of all members of that regional panel, appoint co-chairpersons from its membership for a term of one year.
§ 322. Voting.
Except as expressly provided herein, an affirmative vote of sixty percent of all members of the Commission or any regional panel shall be required to adopt any findings or recommendations of the Commission or such regional panel.
§ 323. Powers and Duties.
(a) The Commission shall have the power to investigate and review the facts and circumstances of all deaths of children under the age of eighteen which occur in Delaware. The review of deaths involving criminal investigations will be delayed until the later of the conclusion of such investigation, or the adjudication of related criminal charges, if any. The Commission shall make recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly, at least annually, regarding those practices or conditions which impact the mortality of children. Such recommendations shall be available to the public upon request.
(b) The Commission shall conduct reviews according to procedures promulgated by the Abuse Intervention Committee of the State Attorney General's Office, which procedures shall be adopted in writing prior to the first review. The Commission may amend such procedures upon a three-quarters affirmative vote of all members of the Commission.
(c) In connection with any review, the Commission shall have the power and authority to;
(I) administer oaths; and
(2) compel the attendance of witnesses whose testimony is related to the death under review and the production of records related to the death under review by filing a praecipe for a subpoena, through the Attorney General or a Deputy Attorney General, with the Prothonotary of any county of this State, such a subpoena to be effective throughout the State and service of such a subpoena to be made by any sheriff of the State; failure to obey said subpoena will be punishable according to the rules of the Superior court.
§ 324. Confidentiality of accords and Immunity From Suit.
(a) The records of the Commission and of all regional panels, including original documents and documents produced in the review process with regard to the facts and circumstances of each death, shall be confidential and shall not be released to any person except as expressly provided herein, Such records shall be used by the Commission, and any regional panel only in the exercise of the proper function of the Commission or regional panel and shall not be public records and shall not be available for Court subpoena or subject to discovery. Aggregate statistical data compiled by the Commission or regional panels, however, may be eleased at the discretion of the Commission or regional panels.
(b) Members of the Commission and of the regional panels, and their agents or employees, shall not be subject to, and shall be immune from, claims, suits, liability, damages or any other recourse, civil or criminal, arising from any act, proceeding, decision or determination undertaken or performed or recommendation made, provided such persons acted in good faith and without malice in carrying out their responsibilities, authority, duties, powers and privileges of the offices conferred by this law upon them or by any other provisions of the Delaware law, Federal law or regulations, or duly adopted rules and regulations of the Commission or its regional panels. Complainants shall bear the burden of proving malice or a lack of good faith to defeat the immunity provided herein.
(c) No person in attendance at a meeting of any such Commission or regional panel shall be required to testify as to what transpired thereat. No organization, institution or person furnishing information, data, reports or records to the Commission or any regional panel with respect to any subject examined or treated by such organizations, institution, or person, by reason of furnishing such information, shall be liable in damages to any person or subject to any other recourse, civil or criminal."
Approved July 19, 1995