Resources & Frequently Asked Questions 

Child Fatality & Near Fatality County Webinar Resources


Frequently Asked Questions


Who is considered a “guardian?”
  • Regulations have been adopted at MPP section 31-502.232(a), which clarify that a “guardian” includes a “putative parent or guardian.” A “putative parent or guardian” is an individual with whom the child resides and who routinely acts as the child’s parent or guardian.

What if there are multiple causes of death and material contributing factors?

  • Prior to July 1, 2015, regulations stated that counties must disclose information when a child’s death was the “result of” abuse or neglect, meaning disclosure was triggered when abuse and/or neglect was the direct cause of the child’s fatality. MPP section 31-502.13 was revised to clarify that it is not necessary for abuse and/or neglect to be the sole or direct cause of the child’s death. Rather, in cases where there are multiple factors that resulted in a child fatality, it is only necessary to determine that abuse and/or neglect was a “material contributing factor” in the child’s death.
  • A “material contributing factor” is defined as a factor that is more than inconsequential or incidental, which contributed to the cause or causes of the child fatality.

What if a child fatality occurs in one county and the child is transported to another county for medical treatment?

  • This is known as a “cross-jurisdictional” fatality. MPP section 31-502.122 and .26 clarifies reporting and disclosure responsibility when fatal maltreatment of a child occurs in one county and the child is transported to another county for medical treatment. If a county’s involvement with the child fatality was limited to the provision of medical services to the victim and/or the preparation and issuance of a coroner or medical examiner’s report, the CWS agency in the county where the abuse and/or neglect occurred shall report the fatality to CDSS on behalf of both counties.

What if two different agencies are differing in their determination of abuse and/or neglect?

A determination that the fatality was the result of abuse and/or neglect exists when one of the following conditions is met:

  • A “determination” of abuse and/or neglect by Child Welfare Services or Probation is the substantiation of abuse and/or neglect allegations which resulted in the fatality; or
  • A law enforcement investigation concludes that the child’s death was a result of abuse and/or neglect; or
  • A corner/medical examiner concludes that the child’s death was a result of abuse and/or neglect.

In some cases, law enforcement, the coroner and/or CWS may reach differing conclusions when determining the cause of a child fatality. When any one or more of the three agencies determine or substantiate abuse and/or neglect as resulting in or being a material contributing factor to a child’s death, information must be reported to CDSS and disclosed pursuant to MPP section 31-502.3, even if one or both of the other agencies have not reached that same determination.

Child Death Review Team Resources

The National Center for Fatality Review and Prevention is a helpful resource for state and local Child Death Review programs promoting death review methodologies, principles and models. Please peruse the plethora of resources available in conjunction with statewide regulatory guidance to assist in county practice of Child Abuse and/or Neglect Death case reviews.  

Alameda County Child Death Review Team

Los Angeles County ICAN Multi-Agency Child Death Review Team

Marin County Child Death Review Team

Mendocino County Child Death Review Team

Orange County Child Death Review Team

Sacramento County Child Death Review Team

Santa Clara County Children's Death Review Team

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: CFSDCriticalIncidents@dss.ca.gov

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