Child Fatality and Near Fatality

Critical Incident Oversight & Support Unit (CIOSU) 


The CIOSU is responsible for the review of critical incidents reported to the CDSS which involve child fatalities and near fatalities resulting from abuse and/or neglect.The unit is also responsible for the annual reporting of information gathered from these reviews pursuant to Senate Bill 39 (Chapter 468, Statutes of 2007), Assembly Bill 1625 (Chapter 320, Statutes of 2016) and the federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, and for responding to federal inquiries and Public Records Act requests regarding child fatalities and/or near fatality incidents and state oversight activities.The unit also oversees and provides technical assistance to counties to ensure consistent application of child fatality and near fatality reporting and disclosure policies and statutory and regulatory requirements.

Child Fatalities and Near Fatalities Resulting From Abuse and/or Neglect


In California, federal and state statutes govern the disclosure of information related to child fatalities or near fatalities that are the result of abuse and/or neglect. Federal law, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), requires that states disclose to the public, findings or information about cases of child abuse and neglect that result in fatalities or near fatalities. Additionally, California Senate Bill (SB) 39 (Chapter 468, Statutes of 2007) details the requirements for county disclosure of child fatality information wherein there is a reasonable suspicion that the fatality was caused by abuse or neglect and when abuse or neglect has been determined to have led to a child’s death. Specifically, SB 39 requires the custodian of records for the child welfare agency to release specified information. The CDSS issued several All County Letters (ACLs) to implement SB 39 and regulations related to SB 39, which governed disclosure requirements for child fatalities that occurred on or after January 1, 2008.  Assembly Bill (AB) 1625 amended statute which updated the State's child near fatality definition to be in alignment with the federal definition of near fatality under CAPTA. The near fatality definition removed time limits in which a child must be in 'serious' or 'critical' condition prior to disclosure for reporting purposes. Similarly to SB 39, this bill identifies required information that must be disclosed once a near fatality is determined to have been caused by abuse or neglect. The CDSS released ACL 16-109 to provide guidance regarding the state law change and its impact to reporting, recording and disclosing near fatalities.  

For additional resources and guidance on the public disclosure of information in cases of child fatalities and near fatalities caused by abuse and/or neglect, please visit the various quick links listed on the right hand side bar. 

  Contact Us

For questions related to Child Fatalities
and/or Near Fatalities, please contact:

California Department of Social Services 
744 P Street, MS 8-12-90 
Sacramento, CA 95814 
Phone: (916) 651-8100 
Email: ChildFatality@dss.ca.gov

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