Government Accountability Project Asheville

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YELLOW: Things of concern, more information needed

Summary: Two County teams that review, analyze, and address child fatalities point out racial disparities but don’t seem to be prioritizing that issue.

Buncombe County Commission Agenda – Presentation: Community Child Protection Teams (CCPT)/Child Fatality Prevention Team (CFPT) (Team Report, Team Presentation)

The Facts: These teams review and analyze child fatalities and come up with strategies for how to reduce childhood mortality. For the past year, those strategies included gun safety measures, increased substance use disorder (SUD) treatment, better child abuse reporting, sharing more information on unsafe sleep practices, and suicide prevention.

The report documents that Black children are dying in Buncombe County at a disproportionate rate: “In Buncombe County, Black infants are 2.36 times more likely to die before their first birthday than white infants.”

Our Assessment: We wonder why these teams haven’t given more priority to strategies that investigate and address the fact that Black children are more at risk in Buncombe County. The data on causes of death isn’t disaggregated by race, so we don’t know what led to the deaths of these Black children. However, we note that the most common cause of death in infants was perinatal conditions, and wonder about the connection between that and the longstanding racial disparities (nationally and locally) in health outcomes for both babies and the people birthing them. While gun safety, suicide prevention, and the other strategies prioritized by this team all have merit, we wonder why a strategy focused on the impact of race and racism on childhood mortality isn’t included here.

Things to do

Email the Buncombe County Commission and suggest that they ask an important question at this presentation: since the data indicates that Black children are at a much greater risk, why aren’t the CCPT and CFPT implementing any strategies that will address this deeply troubling disparity?

We have prepared an email template below that addresses both this issue and the County’s proposed attention to the critical need for affordable housing, for which we have a “green” item below.

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REPORT BACK STATUS

Unresolved

Report Back

Coming Soon!

COUNTY COMMISSION EMAIL TEMPLATE TEXT

You can send an email to the Buncombe County Commission by filling out the form below. Our email tool will send an individually addressed email to each recipient, and enable us to track how many emails were sent overall in the campaign. If you prefer to write your own email, you can copy and paste (and adapt) our template text. We ask that you send us a copy (cc: or bcc:, your choice) at info@gapavl.org so we can better track how many emails were sent.

To: brownie.newman@buncombecounty.org, jasmine.beach-ferrara@buncombecounty.org, alfred.whitesides@buncombecounty.org, amanda.edwards@buncombecounty.org, terri.wells@buncombecounty.org, martin.moore@buncombecounty.org, parker.sloan@buncombecounty.org

CC: or BCC: info@gapavl.org

Subject: Protecting Black children

Dear Members of the Buncombe County Commission,

I’m writing to encourage you to support the proposed resolution on your June 4th agenda declaring affordable housing a “critical need.” The lack of affordable housing in the County has reached a crisis-point, and I appreciate your efforts to address it.

I’m also concerned with another item on your agenda: two teams concerned with child protection and fatalities will be making a presentation, which includes important data about Black children, who are more than twice as likely to die than their white counterparts in their first year of life. These teams have a list of strategies they have undertaken, but I don’t see one that is designed to address these deadly racial disparities. Will you please ask them why and suggest that they explore that option?

Of course, these issues are all connected: the lack of affordable housing for so many Black households is strongly related to racial health disparities. I hope we can move forward with new strategies for deeply affordable housing and other strategies for reducing Black childhood mortality.

Thanks for your leadership,