What is the California Child Fatality Surveillance System (CCFSS)?
The California Child Fatality Surveillance System (CCFSS), formerly known as the Fatal Child Abuse and Neglect Surveillance System (FCANS), is used to track data on child fatalities that occur in California. The California Department of Public Health, Injury and Violence Prevention Branch (CDPH/IVPB) provides limited reimbursement* to counties that voluntarily submit child fatality data into the CCFSS. Submission of all child fatality cases into the CCFSS can support California Child Death Review Team (CDRT) efforts to improve the investigation of fatal child abuse and neglect cases, as well as other child fatalities (e.g., drownings), and identify where opportunities exist to prevent and reduce child death.
History of CCFSS
Since 2003, County CDRTs have submitted child fatality cases into the CCFSS. Nearly 10,000 cases have been entered with the highest number of cases submitted in 2008 (1,041) by thirty-one counties. It is important to note that these cases are not representative of all child fatalities that occurred in California in that year.
Access to CCFSS data can support efforts to:
- Assist in identifying and investigating potential child maltreatment cases.
- Improve identification, investigation, and prevention of fatal child abuse and neglect, as well as other child fatalities.
- Generate hypotheses about the etiology of fatal child abuse and neglect and other child fatalities.
- Guide development of efforts intended to prevent child deaths at the state and local levels by providing data on the circumstances surrounding child deaths.1,2
CCFSS Can Advance Public Health and Improve Child Wellbeing
CCFSS is an aggregate data system that is used by CDRTs to report child deaths in California. This data is intended to inform policy and programs that focus on improving child wellbeing. CDRT findings have influenced both state and local policy and program changes. For example, data collected by CRDTs has been used to inform policies and programs related to child homicide sentencing; safely surrendered babies; children left alone in cars (Kaitlyn's Law); and, child maltreatment reporting and data collection.1
These policy changes have resulted in advancements such as:
- Residential pool safety barrier laws;
- Zero tolerance for carrying guns on school property;
- Data-informed prevention activities (e.g., Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma prevention); and
- Creation of reports that led to national actions (e.g., sharing of information on unsafe cribs and beds) 1
Opportunities to Support Prevention - A Case Example
Sacramento County's CDRT has been reviewing deaths of all Sacramento County children from the age of 0 up to 17 years old since 1990. Sacramento County's goals include:
Ensuring all child abuse-related deaths are identified.
Enhancing investigations of all child deaths through multi-agency review.
Developing statistical description of all child deaths as an overall indicator of the status of children.
Developing recommendations for preventing and responding to child deaths based on said reviews and statistical information.
Please visit the Sacramento County website for more information.
Reimbursement Process for CCFSS
Counties that submit CCFSS data to CDPH/IVPB should utilize the following invoice process to be reimbursed for data submission:
To submit for reimbursement, counties are to contact CDPH/IVPB by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and provide a quote for the amount requested for reimbursement, and a list of cases entered.
Please be aware that every May 1st – June 30th, processing of Purchase Orders (PO) pauses to allow for the transition to the new Fiscal Year (FY). Quotes received during this time frame will not be processed until after July 1st of the new FY.
To ensure timely reimbursement, counties must submit quotes before April 30th. If a quote for cases entered between May 1st – June 30th is submitted to CDPH/IVPB, the county must submit the quote no later than July 31st. This will ensure that there is enough time to process and generate a PO before the State FY funds become unavailable on September 30th.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- How is data entered through CCFSS?
- How do counties access CCFSS?
- Counties submit a signed data user agreement to CDPH/IVPB to be able to enter cases into the CCFSS. Reach out to the child adversity email at childadversityprevention.cdph.ca.gov for more information.
- How many CDRTs in California have participated in CCFSS?
- Since CCFSS began, 39 of the 58 counties in California have participated at various points in time. The number of counties who submit cases fluctuates.
- How do counties access death certificate data?
- The information is available in the California Comprehensive Death File (CCDF) in the Vital Records Business Intelligence System (VRBIS). All local health departments have direct access to the CCDF. Each local health department may have up to two VRBIS user accounts.
- How do you find out who in your county has access to VRBIS?
- Determine if your local health department has a VRBIS account. If a VRBIS account is needed, then please contact the Center for Health Statistics and Informatics (CHSI) through the Health Information and Research Section (HIRS) at HIRS@cdph.ca.gov for support.
*Funding for reimbursement is $150 per case submitted and available on a first come, first serve basis, until funds are expended.
1. National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention. Spotlight – California
2. The Child Abuse Prevention Center. Child Death Review Team (CDRT)