© 2024. Randolph Hub. All Rights Reserved.


In Randolph County, 23 child deaths recorded in latest year available

ASHEBORO — Safe sleep for infants was a priority of the Child Fatality Prevention Team and the Community Child Protection Team when they reported to the Randolph County Board of Commissioners on March 4.


Tara Aker, county Public Health director, said there were 23 child deaths in Randolph County during 2022, plus two more from 2021 that were late being reported. Of those deaths, five were from accidents, four were attributed to birth defects, eight were the result of illnesses, and four were from perinatal causes. Four deaths came under “Other.”


Aker said, “We don't have background information for every child, but we do look at those deaths to try and make sure that if there's anything to prevent a child's death, we can take measures to prevent that from happening. We want to identify gaps in protection to help prevent future deaths.”


Jonetta Butler, DSS assistant director for Child Welfare, described criteria for an injurious environment case. 


“That can mean domestic violence in the home, where we have small children in the home who may be subject to or caught in the crossfire. Those cases fall under injurious environment,” she said. “We also have cases that are substance abuse as the primary area of concern. Also, safe sleep falls under that — co-sleeping is one of the things that came out of the cases we reviewed."


Co-sleeping is when an infant sleeps in the same bed with an adult. The danger comes when the adult inadvertently rolls over the infant and causes asphyxiation. 


“The team tries to think of ways to combat” unsafe sleeping habits, Butler said. 


"Public health came to our agency and provided safe sleep training. We bring our social work staff together and they talk about ways to get information out to places where there are young moms, and kids that we know can make an impact. We're very excited that they could come in and help grow our staff in that way.


“We're trying to blanket the community and get as much information out there as we can about safe sleep. That has been the core of what we did as a team for 2023."


Butler said the team has partnered with the Randolph County Partnership for Children, the school systems, daycare centers, the Randolph Health maternity staff and other groups in an effort to “blanket the community with safe sleep.”