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1.5.4 Death of, or Serious Injury to, Child in Community or Child in Care

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.

These steps are in addition to the carrying out of the London Child Protection Procedures and London Child Death Overview Panel Procedure in relation to the need to hold a Child Safeguarding Practice Review and the work of the Child Death Overview Panel.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was amended in October 2018. From 29 June 2018, local authorities in England must notify the national Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel within 5 working days of becoming aware of a serious incident.


Contents

  1. Death of or Serious Injury to a Child in the Community
  2. Death of or Serious Injury to a Child in Care
  3. Needs of Social Worker / Team / Manager / Carer


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

Local authorities in England must notify the national Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel (the Panel) within 5 working days of becoming aware of a serious incident.

Incidents should be reported where the local authority knows or suspects that a child has been abused or neglected and:

  • The child dies (including suspected suicide) or is seriously harmed in the local authority’s area;
  • While normally resident in the local authority’s area, the child dies or is seriously harmed outside England.

The process for reporting a serious incident to the Panel are set out on GOV.UK.

 

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 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.
1.2 The line manager will immediately inform the Service Manager by telephone and provide follow up information in writing as soon as possible afterwards.
1.3

The Service Manager will:

  1. Inform the Head of Children's Social Care;
  2. Ascertain as full details as possible from the Police and any other source;
  3. Request their administrative staff to check Children's Social Care records on the child and family and print out any information held;
  4. Collect any files held on the child and family and secure them in the correct office location;
  5. Arrange through their administrative staff how to inform the other relevant agencies about the death/serious injury and remind them to secure their files;
  6. Arrange to consider the circumstances of the death/serious injury, in accordance with the London Child Protection Procedures, including the need to hold a Child Safeguarding Practice Review.
1.4

Local authorities should continue to use Ofsted’s current Notification Form for Serious Childcare Incidents to notify the Panel until a new system for the Panel goes live. Notifications made through this route will go to the Panel, Ofsted and the DfE.

The report is submitted online and the contents entered must be reviewed by the Designated Manager before it is submitted. The form requires a range of information and is set out clearly in sections. A copy of the completed form should be saved and printed out for the records.

In urgent situations, the Deputy Director or Director of Children’s Services should telephone Ofsted on 0300 123 1231 and then complete the form.


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.

2.1

The child's social worker will:

  1. Immediately inform their line manager;
  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 Service Manager 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 Service Manager will:

  1. Inform the Head of Children's Social Care;
  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. Consult the Head of Children's Social Care about the need for an internal management review of the case and if so, the appropriate person to conduct the review;
  4. Where a review is to be conducted, collect any files held on the child and family and secure them at his or her office;
  5. Arrange through his or her administrative staff to inform other relevant agencies about the death/serious injury and remind them to secure their files where a review is likely to be required;
  6. Arrange, in consultation with the Safeguarding Manager, appropriate meetings under the London Child Protection Procedures,including the need to hold a Child Safeguarding Practice Review;
  7. Inform the national Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel using the Notification Form for Serious Child Care Incidents. Notifications made through this route will go to the Panel, Ofsted and the DfE. The local authority must also notify the Secretary of State and Ofsted where a looked after child has died, whether or not abuse or neglect is known or suspected.
2.4

The report to the Panel is the same as the previously outlined on the report above.

In the event of a Child Safeguarding Practice Review 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.

End