Child Fatality Task Force identifies problem areas in North Carolina

WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT) – A new report released by the Child Fatality Task Force identifies several problem areas activist hope to address in 2016. Since the task force’s inception in 1991, child fatality rates in North Carolina have dropped 46 percent.

The group identified several areas they wanted addressed by lawmakers: supporting legislation to fund school bus safety, giving $120,000 in recurring funds to Operation Medicine Drop, increasing the fine to $25 for unrestrained backseat passengers, prohibiting unlawful custody transfers, granting $50,000 to help prevent child sexual abuse, and appropriating $250,000 to support the “You Quite Two Quit” program.

Ellen Walston, the injury prevention program coordinator at Vidant Medical Center, said people need to place more of an emphasis on buckling up.

“You become a projectile to those who are buckled and restrained properly, so it’s important for every person to be buckled,” she said.

Another problem area involved the lack of school nurses. The national recommended ratio of nurse to students is 1:750. However, only 45 school districts in the state meet that number.

Counties in the East fell well behind that, with Lenoir County Schools having a ration of 1:1,287, Pitt County Schools having one of 1:1,180, Beaufort County Schools at 1:1,064, and Onslow County Schools with a ratio of 1:1,180.

“We haven’t had a new nurse in quite a long time,” said Cindy Edwards, lead nurse for Beaufort County Schools.

Edwards said limited budgets often prohibit school districts from adding more nursing positions. She said treating medical conditions today are a lot more difficult than they used to be.

“Obesity is a huge problem. Mental health has exploded,” she said.

Nurses are scheduled to meet with state lawmakers on May 17th in Raleigh to discuss some of their concerns.

The biggest drop in fatality rates occurred between 2008 and 2010, with a reduction of 12.3 deaths per 100,000 kids.

Despite the progress, fatality rates among African Americans, Hispanic/Latino, and Non-Hispanic American Indians remain higher than other demographics.

Sometimes, the cost of a car seat prohibit some parents from getting one. Walston said thanks to a program called “Toyota Buckle Up For Life”, parents can get car seats for free if they complete the educational program.

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