Derby logo

Derby CityChildren's Social Care Procedures

4.11 Death of or Serious Harm to a Child

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter outlines the steps to be taken in the event of the suspicious death of/serious harm to a child living in the community or the death of/serious harm to any child in care (Looked After).

These steps are in addition to any actions carried out under the Derby and Derbyshire SCBs' Procedures in relation to the need to hold a Child Safeguarding Practice Review and the work of the Child Death Overview Panel.

See also Serious Incident Policy.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was amended in March 2019 following the introduction of the national Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel and the Child Safeguarding Incident Notification System. Local authorities must notify the Panel, via the Child Safeguarding Incident Notification System, within 5 working days of becoming aware of a serious incident.

Contents

  1. Duty on Local Authorities to Notify Incidents to the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel
  2. Death of or Serious Harm to a Child in the Community
  3. Death of or Serious Harm to a Child in Care
  4. Needs of Social Worker / Team / Manager / Carer
  5. Appendix 1: Children considered for Notification to Ofsted following Serious Incidents (Form)
  6. Appendix 2: Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews (Working Together to Safeguard Children, DfE)

1. Duty on Local Authorities to Notify Incidents to the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel

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.

For Children in Care, local authorities must notify the Panel of their death whether or not abuse or neglect is known or suspected.

The process for reporting a serious incident to the Panel via the Child Safeguarding Incident Notification system is set out on GOV.UK. The Panel will share all notifications with Ofsted and the DfE.

2. Death of or Serious Harm to a Child in the Community

Where information comes to notice of the above to a child living in the community, the following tasks are also required.

2.1

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 harm, usually by liaison with the Police, and pass this to the line manager;

  3. Take any necessary action, in consultation with their manager, Police and Health partners, to safeguard any surviving child or siblings.

2.2

The line manager will immediately inform the relevant Service Director by telephone. The form Appendix 1: Children considered for Notification to Ofsted following Serious Incidents (Form) should be completed and emailed to the Service Director as soon as possible afterwards (copied into the Deputy and Head of Service and Head of Quality Assurance)

Where there is any uncertainty about seriousness or cause, the need to involve the Service Director and next steps should be discussed with the relevant Head of Service and HoS QA or a Child Protection Manager.

2.3

If the threshold for a Child Safeguarding Practice Review is most likely met, the Relevant Service Director will:

  1. Inform the Director of Children's Services, who will notify members and Chief Executive as necessary;

  2. Liaise with the Head of Service to give and receive information;

  3. Agree with the HoS when and how to inform partner agency lead officers as necessary and ascertain as full details as possible from the Police and any other source;

  4. Consider the need to secure the electronic file allowing access by Service Director, Head of Service, Head of QA, Careline and other identified individuals only;

  5. Arrange to consider the circumstances of the death/serious harm with the Head of Quality Assurance, including the need to notify Ofsted / Department for Education (DfE) via the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel and hold a local Child Safeguarding Practice Review;
  6. Complete the notification to the national Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel using the Child Safeguarding Incident Notification System. This should be done WITHIN 5 WORKING DAYS OF THE INCIDENT, saving a copy before submission to add to the child's file and send to HoS QA and DSCB Board Manager. Notifications made through this route will go to the Panel, Ofsted and the DfE. The local authority must also notify the Panel (and through them the Secretary of State and Ofsted) where a Child in Care dies, regardless of whether or not abuse or neglect is known or suspected.

    N.B. On completing the online notification form; the Service Director must ensure they personally download the PDF form before submission as this will be checked as part of the Inspection of the local authority and multi agency safeguarding partners;
  7. Complete the internal Children considered for Notification to Ofsted following Serious Incidents form (Appendix 1: Children considered for Notification to Ofsted following Serious Incidents (Form)) and put on the file of the child and any other children in the household;

  8. Consider any media considerations and liaise with media officers as necessary.

2.4

The Head of Quality Assurance will:

  1. Liaise with Service Director regarding notification / Child Safeguarding Practice Review criteria / response;

  2. Liaise with Head of Service to give / receive information;

  3. Review case file as necessary;

  4. Liaise with relevant agency safeguarding leads as necessary;

  5. As applicable inform the Independent Chair of DSCB and the Board Manager, and liaise with the Chair of the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel with regard to the need for a Child Safeguarding Practice Review or extraordinary meeting of the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel.

2.5

Head of Service will:

  1. Liaise with Service Director and Head of Service Quality Assurance to give / receive information, providing regular up-dates;

  2. Follow up with staff to give / receive information;

  3. Request their staff to check Children's Services records on the child and family; and

  4. Ensure any necessary support is made available to staff;

  5. Take responsibility for any on-going safeguarding issues and liaise with other agency staff at operational level;

  6. Review the case file and agency involvement.

Contact details and notification forms for notifying incidents to the Panel are available on GOV.UK.

2.6

See Serious Case Reviews and Learning and Improvement Procedures in the Derby / Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Boards' Procedures.

The relevant team manager should notify managers in other agencies involved in the case as to the decision by the local authority with regards to notification and/or referral to Child Safeguarding Practice Review panel. Where there is any disagreement this should be discussed between the relevant managers and escalated as necessary through safeguarding leads.

Any agency may refer a case to the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel for discussion.

3. Death of or Serious Harm to a Child in Care

Where information comes to notice of the death of or serious harm to a Child in Care, the following additional tasks are required. Where abuse, neglect or self-harm is suspected or if there are any suspicious circumstances around the death, the procedure above must be followed in the first instance.

3.1

The child's social worker will:

  1. Immediately inform their line manager the placement supervisor/agency and the IRO;

  2. Notify the parent(s) immediately and in person;

  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 serious harm to the child, arrange with the parent(s) to visit the child in hospital if appropriate;

  5. Obtain as much information as possible on the circumstances surrounding the cause of death/serious harm 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.

3.2

The line manager will:

  1. Immediately inform the Relevant Service Director by telephone and provide follow up information on the form Children considered for Notification to Ofsted following Serious Incidents by e-mail as soon as possible afterwards, cc to Head and Deputy Head of Service and Head of Quality Assurance;

  2. Liaise with HoS Residential Services or Adoption & Fostering with regard to any safeguarding issues for other children in placement, and with regard to the needs of the carers and other children;

  3. Advise Legal Services initially by telephone, then confirm details by e-mail; and

  4. Contact the Council Insurance Section by e-mail.

3.3

The Relevant Service Director 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. Where a review is to be conducted, consider the need to secure the electronic files;

  4. Agree with the HoS when and how to inform other relevant agencies about the death/serious harm and whether a review is likely to be required;

  5. Consider, in consultation with the Chair of DSCB and Head of Quality Assurance, appropriate meetings under the Derby and Derbyshire SCBs' Procedures, including the need to hold a Child Safeguarding Practice Review;

  6. Come to a decision about the need for an internal review of the case and if so, the appropriate person to conduct the review, in consultation with the Chair of DCSB Child Safeguarding Practice Review panel;

  7. Inform the National Panel using the Child Safeguarding Incident Notification System (see Report a serious child safeguarding incident). The Panel will inform Ofsted and the DfE.

4. 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 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 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.

Appendices

Appendix 1: Children considered for Notification to Ofsted following Serious Incidents (Form)

Appendix 2: Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews (Working Together to Safeguard Children, DfE)