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1.5.1 Death or Serious Injury to a Child (Child in Care)

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 any actions carried out under by the City of York Safeguarding Children Partnership in relation to the need to hold a Child Safeguarding Practice Review and the work of the Child Death Overview Panel.

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

AMENDMENT

In November 2018, this guidance was reviewed and updated throughout to reflect the revised process by which 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 of 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.

A serious incident which should be reported is one 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; or
  • 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 is set out on GOV.UK website

When a serious incident occurs, 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 their line manager.
1.2

The line manager will immediately inform the Designated Manager (Death of a Child) by telephone and provide follow up information in writing by email 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 local authority members as necessary;
  2. Ascertain as full details as possible from the Police and any other source;
  3. Request their 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. Make arrangements 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 City of York Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures, including the need to hold a Safeguarding Practice Review and a referral to the Child Death Overview Panel;
  7. Inform Ofsted using the Notification Form for Serious Childcare Incidents.
1.4

Before the report to Ofsted is submitted the contents entered must be reviewed by the Designated Manager. The form requires a range of information and is set out clearly in sections. A copy of the completed form should be saved to the child’s electronic record.

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

1.5

Where a Child Safeguarding Practice Review is to be held, this will be in accordance with Working Together to Safeguard Children, Chapter 4: Improving child protection and safeguarding practice and the City of York Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures.


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

Where information comes to the notice of the local authority concerning 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 child's parent(s) / carers immediately and in person, wherever possible;
  3. Notify the social worker for any Looked After siblings in order that they can notify the sibling/sand their carers (if different);
  4. Notify the adoptive parents of any adopted siblings;
  5. 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);
  6. In the event of a serious injury to the child, arrange with the parent(s) to visit the child in hospital;
  7. Obtain as much information as possible on the circumstances surrounding the cause of death/serious injury and pass this to their line manager; and
  8. 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;
  9. Where the child was in a long term foster placement, or placed in a pre-adoptive placement and subject to a Placement Order, discuss with the manager how to handle 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 by email 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 of a Child) will:

  1. Inform the Director of Children's Social Care, who will come to a decision about whether to notify the local authority members;
  2. Ensure that the parents' wishes concerning the funeral are discussed with them by the social worker or the manager;
  3. Where a child had been placed in long term foster care or in a pre-adoptive placement, ensure that the carers’ wishes concerning the funeral are discussed with them by the carers’ support worker or manager;
  4. Ensure that any possible conflict between the wishes of the carers and the parents are addressed and wherever possible resolved, and that any appropriate associated costs are met. Where conflicts of this sort cannot be resolved it may be appropriate to seek legal advice prior to making decisions about the arrangements for the child’s funeral;
  5. Come to a decision about the need for an internal management review of the case and if so, the appropriate person to conduct the review;
  6. Where a review is to be conducted, secure any files held on the child;
  7. Make arrangements 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;
  8. Arrange, in consultation with City of York Safeguarding Children Partnership Business Manager, appropriate meetings under City of York Safeguarding Children Partnerships Procedures, including the need to hold a Child Safeguarding Practice Review;
  9. Inform the National Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel using the Notification Form for Serious Childcare 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 Child in Care has died, regardless of whether abuse or neglect is known or suspected.
2.4

The report to Ofsted is the same as the previously outlined online report above.

In the event of a Child Safeguarding Practice Review and/or internal management 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, including who will provide them with information and or support. This should be discussed and agreed by the relevant managers and head of service, on a case by case basis.

The impact of a child death on family support worker/social worker/practice, or service unit as well as the manager, service manager and carer needs to be addressed in terms of:

  • The need for counselling for those involved;
  • Consider impact on carers’ capacity to continue to care for other ‘looked after’ children still in placement, and any associated additional support needs;
  • The manner in which such support is offered;
  • The provision of access to legal and professional advice about the on-going conduct of the case;
  • The provision of a clear explanation of the process of a Child Safeguarding Practice 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 and Group 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 monitor and manage workloads;
  • The need to be aware of the potential for a child death to impact on workers’ and managers’ capacity to make certain decisions, or impact on the quality of decision making, and the need to provide additional support around this for as long as is deemed necessary.

End