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4.11 Death of or Serious Harm to a Child
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This procedure outlines the steps to be taken in the event of the suspicious death of/serious harm to a child living in the community (where there are suspicions of abuse or neglect) or the death of/serious harm to any Child in Care (whether or not 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 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.
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 Head of Service CQA or a Child Protection Manager.
If the threshold for a Rapid Review is most likely met, the Relevant Service Director will:
Inform the Director of Children's Services, who will notify members and Chief Executive as necessary;
Liaise with the Head of Service to give and receive information;
Agree with the Head of Service 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;
Consider the need to secure the electronic file allowing access by Service Director, Head of Service, Head of CQA, Careline and other identified individuals only;
Arrange to consider the circumstances of the death/serious harm with the Head of Children's Quality Assurance, including the need to notify Ofsted / Department for Education (DfE) via the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel and carry out a Rapid Review;
The Head of Service CSC must be notified immediately, in order to complete the notification to the national Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel using the Child Safeguarding Online Notification System (CSONS). 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 Head of Service CQA and Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Partnership Manager. Notifications made through this route will go to the National Panel only. 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 and Head of Service CSC 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;
Consider any media considerations and liaise with media officers as necessary.
The Head of Children's Quality Assurance will:
Liaise with Service Director regarding notification / Child Safeguarding Practice Review criteria / response;
Liaise with Head of Service to give / receive information;
Review case file as necessary;
Liaise with relevant agency safeguarding leads as necessary;
As applicable inform the Independent Chair of Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Partnership and the Partnership Manager.
Head of Service will:
Liaise with Service Director and Head of Service Children's Quality Assurance to give / receive information, providing regular up-dates;
Follow up with staff to give / receive information;
Request their staff to check Children's Services records on the child and family; and
Ensure any necessary support is made available to staff;
Take responsibility for any on-going safeguarding issues and liaise with other agency staff at operational level;
Review the case file and agency involvement.
Contact details and notification forms for notifying incidents to the Panel are available on GOV.UK.
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 the need to hold a Rapid Review. Where there is any disagreement this should be discussed between the relevant managers and escalated as necessary through safeguarding leads.
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.
The child's social worker will:
Immediately inform their line manager the placement supervisor/agency and the IRO;
Notify the parent(s) immediately and in person;
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);
In the event of serious harm to the child, arrange with the parent(s) to visit the child in hospital if appropriate;
Obtain as much information as possible on the circumstances surrounding the cause of death/serious harm and pass this to their line manager; and
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;
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.
Liaise with Head of Service 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;
Advise Legal Services initially by telephone, then confirm details by e-mail; and
Contact the Council Insurance Section by e-mail.
The Relevant Service Director will:
Inform the Director of Children's Services, who will come to a decision about whether to notify Elected Members;
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;
Where a review is to be conducted, consider the need to secure the electronic files;
Agree with the Head of Service when and how to inform other relevant agencies about the death/serious harm and whether a review is likely to be required;