Eagle editorial: Update law on review of child deaths

02/19/2014 6:07 PM

08/08/2014 10:22 AM

Recognizing that no death of a child should be shrugged off as somehow acceptable, Kansas lawmakers created the child death review board 22 years ago. Now they need to update the law to add value to the board’s work.

Senate Bill 259 would cost the state nothing – a plus as the state faces decreasing revenues. But the measure would pay dividends in enabling better analysis of the causes of minors’ deaths than is now possible with an antiquated database. That in turn could lead to better recommendations for how the state might prevent more such deaths.

The bill would give the child death review board, which is maintained by the Attorney General’s Office, authority to disclose information for purposes of certain research or for public health or education. When the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the bill last month, no opponents testified, but the committee has yet to advance the legislation.

“It’s to learn what was done and what we might be able to do differently,” Christy Schunn, executive director of the Wichita-based SIDS Network of Kansas, told the Topeka Capital-Journal.

Part of the board’s job is to try to connect the dots between child deaths, then seek policies and strategies that will end up saving young lives. That Kansas has a higher child mortality rate than the nation should be reason enough for the Legislature to pass this simple, commonsense bill.

For the editorial board, Rhonda Holman

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