NORFOLK -- 16 children in Hampton Roads died from the abuse or neglect of a caretaker from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013, according to Hampton Roads/Eastern Regional Child Fatality Review Team.
That accounts for just over a third of all child deaths in Virginia last year, officials said, and that could reach nearly 50% depending on the outcome of four cases being appealed.
The team released startling statistics: Four children who died had not reached their first birthday; most of the victims were under age 2; eight of the children died of blunt force trauma and had been severely battered more than once; 83% of the children who died were in the care of their biological (or adoptive) mother, father or both.
Based on the latest numbers, the team recommends, among many things, cross training for day care providers on child safety (including safe sleep practices) and recognition of child abuse; for 'in home' service providers to recognize signs of child abuse/neglect; ensure that training for expectant and new parents includes information on safe sleep practices, child development, safe feeding, swaddling, and choosing day care providers.
On a federal level, officials believe social service and law enforcement records should be shared across state lines in cases of child deaths.
For FY 2013, 47 cases in Virginia were reviewed.
As horrific as those numbers are, that's nine fewer cases than the group reviewed in fiscal year 2012, officials noted.
The review team is made up of representatives from child welfare organizations, law enforcement, hospitals and the medical examiner's office.