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2.4.1 Death or Serious Injury to a Child (In Care and a Child in Need)

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure outlines the immediate steps to be taken in the event of the suspicious death of or serious injury to a child living in the community (where there are suspicions of abuse or neglect) and the death of/serious injury to any Child in Care (Looked After whether or not the abuse or neglect is known or suspected).

These steps are in addition to any Rapid Review or Child Safeguarding Practice Review which may be commissioned and the work of the Child Death Overview Panel.

This procedure uses the expression Designated Manager. This Designated Manager must also be notified in circumstances where there is a serious injury to a child.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated throughout in August 2019 to reflect Working Together to Safeguard Children (2018) and the process for reporting a serious incident to the Panel via the Child Safeguarding Incident Notification System.


Contents

  1. Death of or Serious Injury to a Child in the Community where there are Suspicions of Abuse or Neglect
  2. Death of, or Serious Injury, to a Looked After Child in Care
  3. Needs of Social Workers / Team / Manager / Carers

    Appendix 1: Brief guidance for the management of unexpected child death by social workers


1. Death of or Serious Injury to a Child in the Community where there are Suspicions of Abuse or Neglect

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.

Serious incidents which should be reported are those 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 via the Child Safeguarding Incident Notification System is set out in the following: Report A Serious Child Safeguarding Incident (GOV.UK). The Panel will share all notifications with Ofsted and the DfE. This reporting will be completed by the Assistant Director Of Safeguarding, Quality Assurance & Professional Standards and will be triggered by the alert completed by the social worker.

The following tasks are also required:

1.1

The child's social worker or, if not previously known to Children’s Social Care, 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.
1.2 The line manager will immediately inform the Designated Manager by telephone and provide follow up information in writing as soon as possible afterwards.
1.3

The Designated Manager will:

  1. Inform the Divisional Directors 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 his or her administrative staff to check Children's Services records on the child and family on Liberi and print out any information held;
  4. Arrange to inform the relevant agencies about the death/serious injury and remind them to secure their files;
  5. Arrange to consider the circumstances of the death/serious injury, in accordance with the Kent and Medway Safeguarding Children Board Procedures, including the need to hold a Rapid Review and where the child has died, a referral to the Child Death Overview Panel.
1.4

Local authorities should use the Child Safeguarding Incident Notification System to notify the Panel. The Panel will share all notifications with Ofsted and the DfE. The report - 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. Before you start you will need:

  • Your sign in;
  • Your phone number and email address;
  • Name of each child you are notifying;
  • Details of the incident.

A copy of the completed form should be saved and printed out for the records.

In urgent situations, the Designated Manager or the Divisional Director of Children’s Services should telephone Ofsted on 0300 123 1231 and then complete the form. Email mailbox.nationalreviewpanel@education.gov.uk if you have any queries.
1.5 Where a Child Safeguarding Practice Review is to be held, the Designated Manager will determine the most appropriate person to carry out the Internal Management Review (IMR) of the case within Children's Services. This review must be written in accordance with the expectations that are set out in Chapter 4 in Working Together and the Kent and Medway Safeguarding Children Board Procedures. This will include the preparation of a detailed Chronology of what is contained in the records, the carrying out of interviews with members of staff where necessary, a critical analysis of the social work practice and an action plan based on the report findings and recommendations. Prior to presenting the IMR to the Serious Case Review Panel, the author should consult with the Divisional Director, who must endorse the report.
1.6 The recommendations and action plan of the Internal Management Review report should be reported to the Senior Management Team of Children's Services as well as to the Local Safeguarding Children Board, together with a report of any follow-up action. The recommendations and action plan should also be fed back to all relevant staff by the Designated Manager or their nominee.


2. Death of, or Serious Injury, to a Looked After 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 Designated 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 Designated Manager will:

  1. Inform the Divisional Directors 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. 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;
  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 to inform 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 Kent and Medway Safeguarding Children Board Procedures, including the need to hold a Rapid Review;
  7. Additionally, whenever a Looked After Child dies, the local authority must inform the national Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel within 5 days using the Child Safeguarding Incident Notification System. The Panel will share all notifications with 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 online report above.

In the event of a Child Safeguarding Practice Review being required, the steps outlined in Section 3, Needs of Social Workers / Team / Manager / Carers should be followed.


3. Needs of Social Workers / Team / Manager / Carers

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 workers / team / manager / carers 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 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 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.


Appendix 1: Children’s Social Services Response to Unexpected Child Deaths

Click here to view Appendix 1: Brief guidance for the management of unexpected child death by social workers

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