CHAPTER 376

FORMERLY

SENATE BILL NO. 279

AS AMENDED BY

SENATE AMENDMENT NO. 1

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 31 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO REVIEW OF CHILD NEAR DEATHS.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE :

WHEREAS, Delaware is a community which values the life, health and safety of each and every child;

WHEREAS, the Child Death Review Commission is statutorily charged with investigating and reviewing the facts and circumstances of all deaths of children under the age of 18 in an effort to safeguard the health and safety of all of Delaware’s children;

WHEREAS, the Child Death Review Commission is committed to preventing each and every death of a child in this State where possible;

WHEREAS, in exchange for federal monies, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (“CAPTA”) requires a body to ensure that Delaware is meeting its child protection responsibilities;

WHEREAS, that body in Delaware is the Child Protection Accountability Commission;

WHEREAS, the Child Protection Accountability Commission is statutorily charged with and committed to evaluating the extent to which State and local authorities are effectively discharging their child protection responsibilities in accordance with federal law;

WHEREAS, prior reviews of the deaths of children due to abuse and/or neglect have resulted in valuable changes in Delaware’s systems and procedures designed to protect children; and

WHEREAS, it is desirable to create a formal procedure that will result in the prompt review of near deaths by abuse and/or neglect while still protecting the confidentiality rights of the individuals involved in the investigation; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to CAPTA, the Child Protection Accountability Commission has determined that the reviews of near deaths due to abuse and/or neglect will significantly assist in evaluating the extent to which State and local agencies are effectively discharging their child protection responsibilities in accordance with federal law; and

WHEREAS, in furtherance of its commitment to prevent child deaths, the Child Death Review Commission, supports these reviews;

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:

Section 1. Amend Title 31, Section 301 of the Delaware Code by adding new subsections (6) and (7) as follows:

“(6) ‘Abuse’ is as defined in §902(1) of Title 16;

(7) ‘Near Death’ means a child in serious or critical condition as a result of child abuse or neglect as certified by a physician;”

Section 2. Amend Title 31, Chapter 3, Subchapter II of Delaware Code by deleting the title of Subchapter II and replacing in lieu thereof the following:

“Subchapter II. Child Death, Near Death and Still Birth Commission.”

Section 3. Amend Title 31, Section 320 of the Delaware Code by striking it in its entirety and inserting the following in lieu thereof:

Ҥ320. Declaration of legislative intent.

The General Assembly hereby declares that the health and safety of the children of the State will be safeguarded if deaths of children under the age of 18, near deaths of abused and/or neglected children, and stillbirths occurring after at least 27 weeks of gestation 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, Near Death and Stillbirth Commission. For the purposes of this subchapter, ‘Commission’ means the Child Death, Near Death and Stillbirth Commission. Stillbirths occurring after at least 27 weeks of gestation shall not include stillbirths which occur as a result of an elective medical procedure.”

Section 4. Amend Title 31, Section 321(a) of the Delaware Code by inserting the phrase “the Chair of Child Protection Accountability Commission,” after the phrase “Title 29,”.

Section 5. Amend Title 31, Section 321(a) of the Delaware Code by striking the last sentence and inserting the following in lieu thereof:

“The Commission shall be staffed, and its staff shall include an Executive Director. The General Assembly may annually appropriate such sums as it may deem necessary for the payment of the salary of the Executive Director and the staff, and for the payment of actual expenses incurred by the Commission.”

Section 6. Amend Title 31, Section 321(c) of the Delaware Code by inserting the following at the end of that subsection:

“The Commission shall meet at least annually with the Child Protection Accountability Commission to jointly discuss the public recommendations generated from reviews conducted pursuant to §323(e) of this subchapter. This meeting shall be open to the public.”

Section 7. Amend Title 31, Section 321(d) of the Delaware Code by inserting following sentence after the first sentence:

“One of the panels shall be designated to review cases pursuant to § 323(e) of this subchapter. However, for good cause shown to the Commission, any panel may investigate and review any death, near death or stillbirth entitled to review by the Commission.”

Section 8. Amend Title 31, Section 323(a) by inserting the phrase “and near deaths” after the word “deaths” and before the word “of” in the first sentence, and further by inserting the phrase “and Child Protection Accountability Commission and” after the phrase “General Assembly” as found in the third and fourth sentences.

Section 9. Amend Title 31, Section 323(c)(2) by inserting the phrase “or near death” after the word “death” and before the word “under” each time they appear therein.

Section 10. Amend Title 31, Section 323(e) by inserting the phrase “or near death” after the word “death” and before the word “of” in the first and second sentences, by striking the word “deceased” in the first sentence, and further by inserting the following as the last sentence:

“For good cause shown to the Commission, completion of an investigation and review under this subsection may be extended from three to six months.”

Section 11. Amend Title 31, Section 323(f) by inserting the phrase “or near death” after the word “death” each time it appears therein.

Section 12. Amend Title 31, Section 324(a) by inserting the phrase “or near death” after the word “death” in the first sentence.

Section 13. The provisions of this Act shall be applicable to child near deaths occurring subsequent to July 1, 2004. Execution of these provisions shall not occur until staffing of the Commission is in place.

Section 14. Amend §321, Title 31, Delaware Code by inserting “, near death” between “death” and “and” each time they appear in subsections (a) and (d) thereof.

Approved July 19, 2004