A. Upon the initiative of any local or regional law-enforcement agency, fire department, department of social services, emergency medical services agency, Commonwealth’s attorney’s office, or community services board, local or regional child fatality teams may be established for the purpose of conducting contemporaneous reviews of local child deaths in order to develop interventions and strategies for prevention specific to the locality or region. Each team shall establish rules and procedures to govern the review process. Agencies may share information but shall be bound by confidentiality and execute a sworn statement to honor the confidentiality of the information they share. Violations shall be punishable as a Class 3 misdemeanor. The State Child Fatality Review Team shall provide technical assistance and direction as provided for in subsection A of § 32.1-283.1.
B. Local and regional teams may be composed of the following persons from the localities represented on a particular board or their designees: a local or regional medical examiner, a local social services official in charge of child protective services, a director of the relevant local or district health department, a chief law-enforcement officer, a local fire marshal, the attorney for the Commonwealth, an executive director of the local community services board or other local mental health agency, and such additional persons, not to exceed five, as may be appointed to serve by the chairperson of the local or regional team. The chairperson shall be elected from among the designated membership. The additional members appointed by the chairperson may include, but are not restricted to, representatives of local human services agencies; local public education agencies; local pediatricians, psychiatrists and psychologists; and local child advocacy organizations.
C. Each team shall establish local rules and procedures to govern the review process prior to conducting the first child fatality review. The review of a death shall be delayed until any criminal investigations connected with the death are completed or the Commonwealth consents to the commencement of such review prior to the completion of the criminal investigation.
D. All information and records obtained or created regarding the review of a fatality shall be confidential and shall be excluded from the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (§ 2.2-3700 et seq.) pursuant to subdivision 9 of § 2.2-3705.5. All such information and records shall be used by the team only in the exercise of its proper purpose and function and shall not be disclosed. Such information or records shall not be subject to subpoena, subpoena duces tecum, or discovery or be admissible in any criminal or civil proceeding. If available from other sources, however, such information and records shall not be immune from subpoena, subpoena duces tecum, discovery or introduction into evidence when obtained through such other sources solely because the information and records were presented to the team during a fatality review. No person who participated in the reviews nor any member of the team shall be required to make any statement as to what transpired during the review or what information was collected during the review. Upon the conclusion of the fatality review, all information and records concerning the victim and the family shall be returned to the originating agency or destroyed. However, the findings of the team may be disclosed or published in statistical or other form which shall not identify individuals. The portions of meetings in which individual cases are discussed by the team shall be closed pursuant to subdivision A 21 of § 2.2-3711. All team members, persons attending closed team meetings, and persons presenting information and records on specific fatalities to the team during closed meetings shall execute a sworn statement to honor the confidentiality of the information, records, discussions, and opinions disclosed during any closed meeting to review a specific death. Violations of this subsection shall be punishable as a Class 3 misdemeanor.
E. Members of teams, as well as their agents and employees, shall be immune from civil liability for any act or omission made in connection with participation in a child fatality review team review, unless such act or omission was the result of gross negligence or willful misconduct. Any organization, institution, or person furnishing information, data, testimony, reports or records to review teams as part of such review, shall be immune from civil liability for any act or omission in furnishing such information, unless such act or omission was the result of gross negligence or willful misconduct.
1999, c. 867; 2004, c. 690.