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

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This procedure outlines the immediate steps to be taken in the event of the 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 Looked After Child (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 (Death or Serious Injury to a Child). 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 March 2020 to reflect Working Together to Safeguard Children and the process for reporting a serious incident to the Panel via the Child Safeguarding Incident Notification System.

1. Death of or Serious Injury of 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.

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 his or her Practice and/or Team Manager and their Service Manager and Strategic Manager;
  2. Obtain as much information as possible on the circumstances surrounding the cause of death/serious injury and pass this to the above managers.
1.2

The Strategic or Service Manager will immediately inform the Director of Children's Services (who is the Designated Manager (Death or Serious Injury to a Child)) by telephone and provide further information in writing through following the Need to Know Procedure – Essential Reporting for Safeguarding and Children's Services and completion of the Need To Know Briefing Pro Forma as soon as possible afterwards.

1.3

The Strategic or Service Manager 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 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 the correct location;
  5. Arrange to inform 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 Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures Manual which includes confirming that the need to hold a Rapid Review and, where a child has died, a referral to the Child Death Overview Panel;
  7. Ensure Northamptonshire Children’s Trust 'Need to Know Procedure' is fully complied with which details the process by which Ofsted will be notified. See below:
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 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. 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 Deputy Director or 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, this must be conducted in accordance with Chapter 4 in Working Together to Safeguard Children and the Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures.

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

Caption: Death or Serious Injury
   

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 Practice and/or Team Manager, Service Manager and Strategic Manager;
  2. Immediately establish who will notify birth parents. In the event of a child's death, contact must be made with the Police to agree notification arrangements with minimum delay. In the event of a serious injury, consideration should be given to whether or not the Police should be approached to accompany the social worker when notifying birth parents. Any joint arrangements must be agreed with minimal delay. Notification should be delivered 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 their line managers 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 Strategic or Service Manager will:

  1. Immediately inform the Director of Children's Services (who is 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 Strategic or Service Manager 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. Arrange, in consultation with the Safeguarding Manager, appropriate meetings under the Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures, including the need to hold a Rapid Review;
  4. Ensure Northamptonshire Children’s Trust 'Need to Know Procedure' is fully complied with which details the process by which Ofsted will be notified. See:

  5. 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 Worker/Team/Manager/Carer should be followed.

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

During the implementation of this procedure, on receipt of notification of a child's death, Service managers must give consideration to the needs of those staff and carers involved in the case.

The impact of a child death on social workers / team / manager /carer(s) / significant others (e.g. previous workers) needs to be addressed in terms of:

  • How the news of the child's death is delivered to those involved. Face-to-face is the preferred method, however it is appreciated that this is not always possible. Where face-to-face is not possible, notification via telephone is advised. Email notification should be avoided (except when this is in the form of a Need to Know briefing and the Need to Know Procedure and Guidance is being followed);
  • Identifying workers who are likely to need support dealing with the news of a child's death. When identifying workers, consideration should be made to anyone who has had significant or extended involvement in the child's case. It is important that thought is given to the identification of workers from outside your service area;
  • The need for counselling for those identified. It is recommended that support services such as Employee Assist or other bespoke support and counselling programmes are accessed. Further information regarding emotional wellbeing is available from the First for Wellbeing website;
  • 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 colleague debriefing whilst observing confidentiality;
  • 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.