Child Fatalities and Near-Fatalities

Current Documents

What are Child Fatalities and Near-Fatalities?

The County is required by state law to review each death or near-death of a child and use the information to improve practice and systems. The 2008 Act 33 Amendment to the Child Protective Services law requires state and local reviews of all child fatalities and near-fatalities that result from suspected child abuse.

2019-2021 Child Fatalities and Near-Fatalities Key Findings

  • In Allegheny County from 2019 through 2021 there were 58 child fatalities or near fatalities. The number of total incidents rose each of these years, with 2021 experiencing 25—the highest number since the review process was developed in 2008
  • The age distribution of the victims in these years was consistent with the average distribution across all prior years. Most victims (44%, 26) were under one year of age, followed by 9 victims (16%) at age one
  • Blunt force/penetrating trauma (36%, 21) was the leading causes of both fatal and near-fatal injuries.  There were more incidents caused by drug ingestion or poisoning in 2021 (8) than in previous years
  • Most families (58%) had prior CYF involvement and 33% had active involvement at the time of the incident
  • Parents of the children remained the vast majority (70%) of named perpetrators, as with years prior

What can the dashboard tell us?

This dashboard and series of reports describes findings and outcomes from child fatality/near-fatality (CFNF) reviews. Information about the incidents–including victim and perpetrator demographics, cause of death/injury and families’ prior involvement with the child welfare system–is available in these reports as well as case practice and system reforms enacted to reduce the likelihood of future child abuse-related incidents.

Trouble viewing the dashboard below? You can view it directly here.

How is this information being used?

In addition to the state required reporting of child fatalities and near-fatalities, DHS has used the information to make recommendations to prevent these tragedies in the future. These recommendations include:

  • Improved collaboration with medical physicians
  • Upstream prevention and intervention services
  • Integration of the child welfare system and the substance use treatment system
  • Community and firearm violence reduction
  • Applying safety science to child protection

In depth explanations of these recommendations can be found in the “current documents” section above.


Previous reports

Current Plan and Related Documents

Overview: 

This pilot will examine how lowering the cost of public transportation affects individuals’ travel patterns, employment and earnings, healthcare utilization, and other socioeconomic outcomes. We will provide discounted public transportation fares to a sample of households in Allegheny County who are currently receiving or have recently received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

Analysis: 

Researchers will evaluate the effects of the reduced fares using the data collected over the duration of the pilot. The random assignment study design will enable the researchers to estimate the causal effects of the reduced fares by comparing participants’ outcomes between the three discount levels. 

ACDHS and associated stakeholders will receive periodic reports detailing the research findings, and a final report will be made publicly available. 

Older Youth Pandemic Relief

What is this report about ?

From June to October of 2021, Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) provided a cash assistance program for transition-aged youth called Older Youth Pandemic Relief (OYPR). This report describes the methodology and results of a series of surveys that evaluated the impact of the cash assistance program.

What are the takeaways?

  • 76% (n = 1,901) of the people who were eligible to receive the Older Youth Pandemic Relief (OYPR) payment applied for and received the money.
  • The money went to young adults with a high level of need. 85% of recipients were enrolled in Medicaid, and 49% received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.
  • Young adults planned to spend the money on meeting basic needs; top categories were bills, housing, car, food and clothing.
  • The program re-engaged young adults with services. 587 of the people who applied for (and received) the OYPR payment qualified for other services available to transition-aged youth but were not using them.
  • By filling out the OYPR application, they provided updated contact information and information about the types of assistance they need.
  • The percentage of recipients who reported having enough money to meet their basic needs increased from 25% at baseline to 34% after receiving the money. This increase was larger for Black and female demographic groups, which reported lower ability to meet their basic needs at baseline.

How is this report being used?

Findings from this program and report are being used internally at DHS to advocate for new income assistance programs. These include both direct cash cash transfers and other forms of income support, such as subsidized transit.

What is this report about?

Each year, Allegheny County participates in a federally required national effort to count the number of people experiencing homelessness on a single night in January. Allegheny County also performs a supplemental count in the summer. The Point-in-Time (PIT) homeless count enumerates the sheltered (residing in emergency homeless shelters or transitional housing programs) and unsheltered (residing in places not meant for human habitation) homeless population within the County.

What are the key takeaways from the 2022 count?

  • The total count was higher in the winter of 2022 by 188 individuals. In January of 2021, 692 individuals were experiencing homelessness, compared to 880 in 2022.
  • The number of households with children increased by 12 from 2021 to 2022; adult-only households increased by 124.
  • The increases in 2022 may be partially attributed to significantly warmer weather in 2022, more shelter beds available in 2022, and a well-organized count.

How are these reports used?

Allegheny County will continue to conduct PIT counts, working to improve the accuracy of the count. And in particular, the count of people in unsheltered locations by assessing and expanding the locations that street outreach teams visit.

The data collected during the yearly PIT is submitted to HUD, to create a yearly homelessness assessment report presented to congress. For more information, visit the HUD website on the Point-in-Time Count, linked here.

Allegheny County uses the yearly data to understand the shelter conditions of the homeless population more holistically, and make recommendations around allocation of homeless and housing services.

What are these reports about?

Nationally and locally, policymakers and practitioners are interested in the people who frequently use publicly funded services, particularly crisis services. Most people who use crisis services do so infrequently during a year. A small number of people, however, use crisis services frequently, and sometimes they use more than one type of crisis service.

Allegheny County’s rich integrated data allows us to look at the people who use crisis services. This report summarizes key findings about the people who were involved with one or more of the following four crisis services in the years 2016 through 2017: hospital emergency departments, emergency homeless shelters, mental health crisis programs, and the criminal justice system. This summary report will be followed up by reports examining each of these four service areas in more detail.

What are the takeaways?

  • Of the people who used at least one of the four crisis services examined, 6% (10,655) met the definition of frequent users in at least one system. They accounted for 26% of all service episodes during this period.
  • There is little overlap between frequent utilizers of one type of crisis service and another. Just 9% of users were frequent in multiple systems. This does not mean they didn’t use other services, just that they were not frequent users of those systems.
  • Nonetheless, 26% of frequent users of mental health crisis services were also frequent users of hospital emergency departments, indicating that the emergency room might be a point of intervention for people in mental health crisis.
  • All frequent users of emergency shelter were connected to other human services prior to their first shelter stay during this period. This overlap suggests that although frequent utilizers of emergency shelters were connected to supports, the reasons behind people’s continued use of shelter were not adequately addressed through the services they were receiving.

Black residents are using crisis services at disproportionately high rates, and the disproportionality is more pronounced when looking at frequent utilizers. While 13% of the Allegheny County population is Black, 42% of people who used crisis systems (both frequent and non-frequent) were Black, and 49% of frequent utilizers were Black.

How is this report used?

This work is meant to be exploratory and descriptive in nature to help continue and expand the conversation about how we look at frequent utilizers and potential interventions going forward. By looking more closely at this population of frequent utilizers, we hope to gain insight into their needs, identify key intervention points, and find ways to encourage long-term wellness while reducing the need for repeat intense service usage.

Where can I go for more information?

For questions or suggestions, please reach out to DHS-Research@alleghenycounty.us