(a) There is established in the Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Social Services, a State Child Fatality Review Team to conduct in-depth reviews of any child fatalities which have occurred involving children and families involved with local departments of social services child protective services in the 12 months preceding the fatality. Steps in this in-depth review shall include interviews with any individuals determined to have pertinent information as well as examination of any written materials containing pertinent information.
(b) The purpose of these reviews shall be to implement a team approach to identifying factors which may have contributed to conditions leading to the fatality and to develop recommendations for improving coordination between local and State entities which might have avoided the threat of injury or fatality and to identify appropriate remedies. The Division of Social Services shall make public the findings and recommendations developed for each fatality reviewed relating to improving coordination between local and State entities. These findings shall not be admissible as evidence in any civil or administrative proceedings against individuals or entities that participate in child fatality reviews conducted pursuant to this section. The State Child Fatality Review Team shall consult with the appropriate district attorney in accordance with G.S. 7B-2902(d) prior to the public release of the findings and recommendations.
(c) The State Child Fatality Review Team shall include representatives of the local departments of social services and the Division of Social Services, a member of the local Community Child Protection Team, a member of the local child fatality prevention team, a representative from local law enforcement, a prevention specialist, and a medical professional.
(d) The State Child Fatality Review Team shall have access to all medical records, hospital records, and records maintained by this State, any county, or any local agency as necessary to carry out the purposes of this subsection, including police investigative data, medical examiner investigative data, health records, mental health records, and social services records. The State Child Fatality Review Team may receive a copy of any reviewed materials necessary to the conduct of the fatality review. Any member of the State Child Fatality Review Team may share, only in an official meeting of the State Child Fatality Review Team, any information available to that member that the State Child Fatality Review Team needs to carry out its duties.
If the State Child Fatality Review Team does not receive information requested under this subsection within 30 days after making the request, the State Child Fatality Review Team may apply for an order compelling disclosure. The application shall state the factors supporting the need for an order compelling disclosure. The State Child Fatality Review Team shall file the application in the district court of the county where the investigation is being conducted, and the court shall have jurisdiction to issue any orders compelling disclosure. Actions brought under this section shall be scheduled for immediate hearing, and subsequent proceedings in these actions shall be given priority by the appellate courts.
(e) Meetings of the State Child Fatality Review Team are not subject to the provisions of Article 33C of Chapter 143 of the General Statutes. However, the State Child Fatality Review Team may hold periodic public meetings to discuss, in a general manner not revealing confidential information about children and families, the findings of their reviews and their recommendations for preventive actions. Minutes of all public meetings, excluding those of closed sessions, shall be kept in compliance with Article 33C of Chapter 143 of the General Statutes. Any minutes or any other information generated during any executive session shall be sealed from public inspection.
(f) All otherwise confidential information and records acquired by the State Child Fatality Review Team, in the exercise of its duties are confidential; are not subject to discovery or introduction into evidence in any proceedings except pursuant to an order of the court; and may only be disclosed as necessary to carry out the purposes of the State Child Fatality Review Team. In addition, all otherwise confidential information and records created by the State Child Fatality Review Team in the exercise of its duties are confidential; are not subject to discovery or introduction into evidence in any proceedings; and may only be disclosed as necessary to carry out the purposes of the State Child Fatality Review Team. No member of the State Child Fatality Review Team, nor any person who attends a meeting of the State Child Fatality Review Team, may testify in any proceeding about what transpired at the meeting, about information presented at the meeting, or about opinions formed by the person as a result of the meetings. This subsection shall not, however, prohibit a person from testifying in a civil or criminal action about matters within that person's independent knowledge.
(g) Each member of the State Child Fatality Review Team and invited participant shall sign a statement indicating an understanding of and adherence to confidentiality requirements, including the possible civil or criminal consequences of any breach of confidentiality.
(h) Repealed by Session Laws 2013-360, s. 12A.8(f), effective July 1, 2013. (1998-202, s. 13(oo); 1998-212, s. 12.22(e); 1999-190, s. 4; 2000-67, s. 11.14(a); 2003-304, s. 6; 2013-360, s. 12A.8(f).)
Last modified: March 23, 2014