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Death or Serious Injury to a Child

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter outlines the immediate steps to be taken in the event of the suspicious death of/serious injury to a child living in the community or the death of/serious injury to any child in care (Looked After).

These steps are in addition to the carrying out of the Local Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures in relation to the need to hold a Serious Case Review and the work of the Child Death Overview Panel, and the procedures and regulations relevant to any provider e.g. Children's Homes, Fostering Service, Residential Schools.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in September 2017 in line with the requirement to notify Ofsted of any serious childcare incident using the Ofsted online notification form.

1. Death of or Serious Injury of a Child in the Community

Where information about the suspicious death of a child, or serious injury to a child living in the community, the following tasks are required.

1.1

The child's social worker or, if unallocated, the duty worker receiving the information will:

  1. Immediately inform their line manager;
  2. Obtain as much information as possible on the circumstances surrounding the cause of death/serious injury and pass this to the line manager;
  3. Prepare a Need To Know Notification (CSF3645).
1.2 The line manager will immediately inform the Head of Service by telephone and provide follow up information in writing as soon as possible afterwards as a Need To Know Notification (CSF3645).
1.3

The Head of Service will:

  1. Inform the Director of Children's Services, who will notify local authority members as necessary;
  2. Confirm that a Need To Know Notification (CSF3645) has been prepared;
  3. Ascertain as full details as possible from the Police and any other source;
  4. Consider the need to lock down the electronic file, so that there is restricted access and ability to update the file;
  5. Arrange through his or her administrative staff to inform the other relevant agencies about the death/serious injury and remind them to secure their files;
  6. The Director of Children's Services or the Operations Director for Safeguarding Services will as appropriate (and within the criteria in statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children and the local Child Protection Procedures) refer the case to the HSCP Serious Case Review Sub-Group to determine whether a Serious Case Review or other form of review should be undertaken;
  7. Inform Ofsted using the Notification Form for Serious Childcare Incidents.
1.4 Where a Serious Case Review or Partnership Case Review or other form of review is to be undertaken by the HSCP, this will be conducted in accordance with Chapter 4: Working Together to Safeguard Children and the Local Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures.
1.5 If the Serious Case Review Sub-Group decide not to hold a Serious Case Review this will be notified to Ofsted and the National Panel of Independent Experts on Serious Case Reviews in accordance with the Local Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures.

2. Death of or Serious Injury to a Child in Care

Where information comes to notice of the death of or serious injury to a child in care, the following tasks are required, in addition to a Need To Know Notification (CSF3645).

2.1

The child's social worker will:

  1. Immediately inform their line manager and agree the action to be undertaken and how this will be done;
  2. Notify the parent(s) immediately and in person, if possible;
  3. In the event of a child's death, discuss with the parent(s) and reach agreement regarding the arrangements for the funeral (in the event of sudden, unexplained deaths arrangements for the funeral may need to be delayed);
  4. In the event of a serious injury to the child, arrange with the parent(s) to visit the child in hospital;
  5. Obtain as much information as possible on the circumstances surrounding the cause of death/serious injury and pass this to their line manager; and
  6. Discuss with the line manager any necessary expenditure including reasonable travel expenses to assist the family in attending the funeral or visiting the child in hospital where it appears there is financial hardship;
  7. Where the child was in a long term foster placement, discuss with the line manager any possible conflict between the carers and the parents regarding arrangements for the child's funeral.
2.2

The line manager will:

  1. Immediately inform the Head of Service by telephone and provide follow up information in writing as soon as possible afterwards;
  2. Advise Legal Services initially by telephone, then confirm details in writing; and
  3. Contact the Insurance Section of the Finance Department, initially by telephone and then in writing.
2.3

The Head of Service will:

  1. Inform the Director of Children's Services, who will come to a decision about whether to notify local authority Members;
  2. Ensure that the parents' wishes concerning the funeral are discussed (by the social worker or the team manager), that any possible conflict with the wishes of the carers are also ascertained and addressed, and that any appropriate associated costs are met;
  3. Refer the case to the Director of Children's Services who will as appropriate (and within the criteria in statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children and the local Child Protection Procedures) refer the case to the HSCP Serious Case Review Sub-Group to determine whether a Serious Case Review or other form of review should be undertaken;
  4. Inform the Head of Child Protection and Statutory Review Service who will complete and submit the Ofsted Notification Form for Serious Childcare Incidents.
  5. Inform the Insurance Section.
2.4 In the event of a Serious Case being required, the steps outlined in Section 3, Needs of Social Worker/Team/Manager/Carer should be followed.

3. Needs of Social Worker / Team / Managers / Carer

During the implementation of this procedure consideration must be given to the needs of those staff and carers involved in the case.

The impact of a child death on social worker/team/manager/carer needs to be addressed in terms of:

  • The need for counselling for those involved;
  • The manner in which such support is offered;
  • The provision of access to legal and professional advice about the ongoing conduct of the case;
  • The provision of a clear explanation of the process of a Serious Case Review;
  • Support for staff in the event of Police investigation/interviews;
  • The need to inform and keep informed any relevant Trades Unions;
  • The need for team debriefing whilst observing confidentiality. This must be discussed with the Service Manager;
  • The need to acknowledge that a child death can impact on the productivity of any team and its ability to function; and the need to agree strategies to manage workloads.

Trix procedures

Only valid for 48hrs