Gloucestershire Logo

GloucestershireChildren's Social Care Procedures Manual

Death or Serious Injury to a Child (Looked After and Child In Need)

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter outlines the 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 Board Procedures in relation to the need to hold a Serious Case Review and the work of the Child Death Overview Panel.

This chapter uses the expression Designated Manager (Death or Serious Injury to a Child). This person should also be notified in circumstances where there is a serious injury to a child.

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 of a Child in the Community

Where information comes to notice of the suspicious death 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 his or her 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.

1.2

The line manager will immediately inform the Designated Manager (Death or Serious Injury to a Child) by telephone and provide follow up information in writing as soon as possible afterwards.

1.3

The Designated Manager (Death or Serious Injury to a Child) will:

  1. Inform the Director of Children's Services, who will notify members as necessary;
  2. Ascertain as full details as possible from the Police and any other source;
  3. Request his or her administrative staff to check Children's Services 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 at his or her office;
  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. Arrange to consider the circumstances of the death/serious injury, in accordance with the Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children Board Child Protection Procedures, including the need to hold a Serious Case Review or referral to the Child Death Overview Panel;
  7. Inform the Secretary of State for Education; and
  8. Inform Ofsted using the Notification Form for Serious Childcare Incidents.

1.4

The report to the Secretary of State will include the following information and must be approved by the Designated Manager (Death of a Child) before it is sent:

  • Local authority;
  • Child's name;
  • Parents' names;
  • Date of birth;
  • Date of death/serious injury;
  • Child's legal status;
  • Child's ethnicity, religion, language, disability;
  • Cause of death as on Death Certificate;
  • Dates if any when child was subject to a Child Protection Plan;
  • The date and findings of the Post Mortem, Inquest and any criminal proceedings initiated. It may be necessary to notify these details at a later date;
  • Brief details of the case;
  • Local authority duties in respect of the child;
  • Policy and practice issues raised and intended local authority action (to follow later if necessary).

1.5

Where a Serious Case Review is to be held, this must be conducted in accordance with Chapter 4: Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015 and the Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children Board Child Protection Procedures.

1.6

If a decision is made not to hold a Serious Case Review by the Chair of the Local Safeguarding Children Board, this will be notified to Ofsted and the National Panel of Independent Experts on Serious Case Reviews in accordance with the Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children Board Child Protection 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.

2.1

The child's social worker will:

  1. Immediately inform his or her 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 Designated Manager (Death of a Child) 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 Designated Manager (Death or Serious Injury to a Child) will:

  1. Inform the Director of Children's Services, who will come to a decision about whether to notify 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. Arrange, in consultation with the Safeguarding Manager, appropriate meetings under the Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children Board Child Protection Procedures, including the need to hold a Serious Case Review;

  4. Inform the Secretary of State for Education; and

  5. Inform Ofsted using the Notification Form for Serious Childcare Incidents.

2.4

The report to the Department for Education will include the following information in the order shown:

  • Local authority;

  • Child's name;

  • Parents' names and support being offered to them;

  • Date of birth;

  • Date of death/serious injury;

  • Child's legal status;

  • Child's ethnicity, religion, language, disability;

  • Cause of death as on Death Certificate;

  • Dates if any when child was subject to a Child Protection Plan;

  • The date and findings of the Post Mortem, Inquest and any criminal proceedings initiated. It may be necessary to notify these details at a later date;

  • Brief details of the case, including type of placement;

  • Local authority duties in respect of the child;

  • Intention of the local authority to hold an independent management review;

  • Policy and practice issues raised and intended local authority action (to follow later if necessary).

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.