Child Fatality Review Team
The Governor's Task Force on Children at Risk
Community Resources
Contact Us
Child Fatality Review Team


The Mission

The Governor's Task Force on Children at Risk is working diligently to establish a statewide Child Death Review Team to allow comprehensive and multidisciplinary review of deaths of children younger than 18 years-old, in order to identify what information and education may improve the health and safety of Idaho's children.  This professional team will be demographically diverse and will meet on a quarterly basis and/ or as needed when cases arise.


Each year the Idaho Child Fatality Review Team presents its annual report on child deaths
occurring in Idaho. The team was formed by the Governor’s Task Force on Children at Risk,
under Executive Order 2012-03 to review deaths to children under the age of 18, using a
comprehensive and multidisciplinary process. The team is tasked with identifying information
and education that is needed to improve the health and safety of Idaho’s children. Their goal is
to identify common links or circumstances in these deaths that may be addressed to prevent
similar tragedies in the future.


Child Deaths in Idaho, A Report of Findings by the Idaho Child Death Review Team, May 2016


Child Deaths in Idaho, A Report of Findings by the Idaho Child Death Review Team, April 2015


Child Deaths in Idaho, A Report of Findings by the Idaho Child Death Review Team, April 2014


Executive Order

Meet the Review Team

Tahna  Barton Chair, CASA
Jerrilea Archer   Law Enforcement
Erwin Sonnenberg   Coroner
Dr. Mathew Cox   CARES- St Lukes
Margaret Henbest   Nurse/Legislative
Miren Unsworth   DHW
Kris Spain   Public Health, DHW
Dr. Aaron  Gardener   Pediatrician
Dr Glen Groben   Medical Examiner
Teresa Abbott   Principal Analyst
Penny Shaul   Prosecutor
Jeffery Webster   EMS
Kathryn Rose   Coroner

Contact the Team Facilitator

Jerrilea Archer,


Recent News

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho is no longer the only state without a panel that reviews circumstances surrounding child deaths.

The 13-member Idaho Child Fatality Review Team was re-invigorated this year following an executive order from Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter to focus on ways to prevent kids from dying. The team will meet again July 12 to review cases of children who died in vehicle-related accidents, in hopes of helping prevent future fatalities.

Idaho first had such a team in 1998. Then-Gov. Phil Batt created it after reports Idaho had a higher childhood death rate than the U.S. average. But it was disbanded after just three years.

Subsequent efforts to renew the panel failed in the Legislature, on lawmakers' concerns it might be too intrusive for law enforcement or lead to criminal charges against parents.

Consequently, the new panel's members say their aims are limited: To analyze circumstances under which children have died to help determine if they can be avoided in the future — without giving police, local coroners or even grieving moms and dads the feeling they're breathing down their backs.

"We're not here to second-guess people involved in these cases," said Jerrilea Archer, a retired Ada County Sheriff's Department child abuse investigator who coordinates the review team, on Monday. "We're only here to protect children and make sure there isn't a glaring 'something' that is continuously being done (in fatal instances) that hasn't been addressed."

Its members include state epidemiologist Christine Hahn, as well as private doctors, nurses, lawyers and Department of Health and Welfare employees. Review team meetings aren't public, Archer said, to protect confidential medical information.

Fifteen years ago, Batt created the state's first child mortality review team. What emerged were recommendations that Idaho focus education on the proper use of child safety restraints, as well as tougher laws against seatbelt scofflaws.

But the group broke up after 2000. Among other things, some members worried they might be subpoenaed to testify in court cases involving deaths they reviewed.

That left Idaho as the only state without such a panel, though some counties had review boards of their own.

Efforts to re-establish a statewide group in the Idaho Legislature in 2008 and 2009 failed. In 2009, for instance, a measure passed in the House but was blocked in the Senate by foes who said they feared it would target individual parents whose kids had died in accidents.

To allay those worries, this latest group is careful to say that's not part of its mission, as it seeks not to arouse suspicions in libertarian Idaho that it will meddle too deeply into family life.

"This child fatality review team is not an activist group, nor is it a lobbying group," said Kirt Naylor, a child advocate lawyer and chairman of the Governor's Task Force on Children at Risk, which chose the review team's members. "We're looking at trends...If we can learn from the tragic event of the death of a child, so that other families wouldn't have to go through that tragedy and trauma, that's what we're looking at."

Any recommendations from the review team would be vetted by the Governor's Task Force on Children at Risk, Archer said.

Ada County Coroner Erwin Sonnenberg, a panel member, is also convinced the group won't try to micromanage local law enforcement.

"We're not like big brother overlooking the county," he said. "We're looking to see that there's a good process across the state."

Idaho House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, was one of the proponents behind the failed 2008 and 2009 bills.

Despite the four-year delay, he's satisfied that this latest team is now taking the right approach: Reviewing multiple cases of child deaths, to seek out common links or circumstances that, had they been addressed, might have averted a tragedy.

"It's an opportunity to look at injuries or deaths to children on a systematic basis, to see if there are opportunities in state government or in the environment where children live to improve their safety," Rusche said.