Death of or Serious Harm to a Child (Including Children In Care)

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter outlines the immediate 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).

Serious child safeguarding cases are those in which:

  • Abuse or neglect of a child is known or suspected and
  • The child has died or been seriously harmed

‘Serious harm includes (but is not limited to) serious and/or long-term impairment of a child’s mental health or intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development. It should also cover impairment of physical health. This is not an exhaustive list. When making decisions, judgment should be exercised in cases where impairment is likely to be long-term, even if this is not immediately certain. Even if a child recovers, including from a one-off incident, serious harm may still have occurred.’ (Working Together to Safeguard Children)

These steps are in addition to actions under the Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures including the need to hold a 15 day Rapid Review in line with the Child Safeguarding Practice Review process and the work of the Child Death Overview Panel.

AMENDMENT

This chapter has been amended in June 2019 to reflect that, sine 29 June 2018:

Within 5 working days of becoming aware of a serious incident local authorities must;

  • Notify the National Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel (the Panel); and
  • Notify Safeguarding Partners, or Local Safeguarding Children Board where the new partnership arrangements are not yet in place, to undertake a 15 day Rapid Review in line with the Child Safeguarding Practice Review process into all serious child safeguarding cases promptly, and complete this within 15 working days of becoming aware of the incident.

1. What is a Serious Incident?

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; or
  • A Child in Care dies including where abuse or neglect is not known or suspected.

The process for reporting a serious incident to the Panel via the Child Safeguarding Incident Notification System is set out in:

Report a Serious Child Safeguarding Incident (GOV.UK) (Notification Portal for Serious Childcare Incidents). The Panel will share all notifications with Ofsted and the DfE.

2. Notification Pathway – 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 required:

Notifications will be received either at

  • Starting Point (New referrals);
  • Allocated / Duty worker;
  • Out of Hours Team (new referrals outside of working hours, contacts on open cases).

  • The worker receiving the information will immediately inform the team manager;
  • Appropriate Child Protection Procedures in conjunction with our partners from health, police and any other agency involved should be followed in response to the significant event, to ensure that safeguards are in place for the child or surviving siblings in child death or serious harm circumstances;
  • In circumstances when the incident has taken place within Derbyshire but the child does not normally reside within Derbyshire, Child Protection Procedures should be followed and the child’s home authority should be notified at the earliest opportunity and be involved in Strategy Meetings;
  • Team manager will immediately inform the Head of Service who will notify (by telephone conversation and followed up by email) the Executive Director of Children’s Services, Service Director Early Help & Safeguarding, the Assistant Director of Early Help & Safeguarding and the Head of Service Child Protection. (The Head of Service and senior manager will consider during this conversation who else needs to have immediate notification);
  • Consider the need to secure the electronic file allowing access by Service Director, Head of Service, Head of QA, Starting Point and other identified individuals only;
  • Senior Managers need to be regularly updated of the progress of the incident investigation via the Head of Service.

3. Serious Incident Briefing to Senior Managers

The Head of Service notifying the senior manager will complete the Serious Incident briefing form within 24 hours (see Appendix 1: Significant Incident Briefing to Senior Managers). (This form will provide a clear summary of the incident to allow senior managers to give consideration at the earliest opportunity to the threshold criteria for notification to the National Panel and to the Safeguarding Children Partnership (within 5 working days).

4. Role of the Service Director Early Help & Safeguarding (or designate)

  1. Inform the Executive Director of Children's Services (or designate), who will notify local authority members as necessary;
  2. Liaise with the Head of Service to give and receive information in regards to completion of the form;
  3. Ascertain as full details as possible from the Police and any other source;
  4. Within 5 days of the incident, the Service Director will make a decision if the threshold is met for notification to the National Panel;
  5. If threshold is met for notification the Service Director Early Help & Safeguarding will arrange notification through the Child Safeguarding Incident Notification System (Notification Portal for Serious Childcare Incidents) (see Report a serious child safeguarding incident) to notify the National Panel;
  6. The report is submitted online and the contents entered must be reviewed by the Service Director Early Help & Safeguarding (or designate) 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 details (you can reset your password from the service login page);
    • Your phone number and email address;
    • Name of each child you are notifying;
    • Details of the incident.
  7. By return the National Panel will send a receipt and reference number for the notification through to the nominated email address on the form;
    The Panel will share all notifications with Ofsted and the DfE;
  8. A copy of the completed notification form should be downloaded once submitted and placed on the child’s file;
  9. At the same time the notification form should also be shared with the Derby & Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Partnership. The National Panel will confirm the requirement for a Rapid Review to be completed by the Derby & Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Partnership within 15 working days;
  10. Where a decision is made that 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 Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Partnership Procedures.

5. Notification Pathway - Death of or Serious Harm to a Child in Care

Where information is received regarding the death of/serious harm to any Child in Care (whether or not abuse or neglect is known or suspected)

The child's social worker will:

  1. Immediately inform their team manager, the placement manager/agency and the IRO;
  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 harm 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 harm and pass this to their team manager; and
  6. Discuss with the team 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 team manager any possible conflict between the carers and the parents regarding arrangements for the child's funeral.

The team manager will:

  1. Immediately inform the Head of Service who will notify (by telephone conversation and followed up by email) the Executive Director Children’s Services, Service Director Early Help & Safeguarding, the Assistant Director of Early Help & Safeguarding and the Head of Service Child Protection. (The Head of Service and senior manager will consider during this conversation who else needs to have immediate notification);
  2. Consider the need to secure the electronic file allowing access by Service Director, Head of Service, Head of QA, Starting Point and other identified individuals only;
  3. Senior Managers need to be regularly updated of the progress of the incident investigation via the Head of Service;
  4. Advise Legal Services initially by telephone, then confirm details in writing; add;
  5. Contact the Insurance Section of the Finance Department, initially by telephone and then in writing.

The Service Director (or designate) will:

  1. Inform the Director of Children's Services (or designate), who will notify local authority members as necessary;
  2. Liaise with the Head of Service to give and receive information in regards to completion of the form;
  3. Ascertain as full details as possible from the Police and any other source;
  4. Within 5 days of the incident, the Service Director Early Help & Safeguarding (or designate) will arrange notification through the Child Safeguarding Incident Notification System (Notification Portal for Serious Childcare Incidents) (see Report a serious child safeguarding incident) to notify the National Panel 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;
  5. The report is submitted online and the contents entered must be reviewed by the Service Director Early Help & Safeguarding (or designate) 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 details (you can reset your password from the service login page);
    • Your phone number and email address;
    • Name of each child you are notifying;
    • Details of the incident.
  6. By return the National Panel will send a receipt and reference number for the notification through to the nominated email address on the form;
    The Panel will share all notifications with Ofsted and the DfE;
  7. A copy of the completed notification form should be downloaded once submitted and placed on the child’s file;
  8. At the same time the notification form should also be shared with the Derby & Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Partnership. The National Panel will confirm the requirement for a Rapid Review to be completed by the Derby & Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Partnership within 15 working days;
    (Please note Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Board have asked the National Panel for clarification/confirmation that a Rapid Review would not be required in non-suspicious circumstances of the death of a child in care);
  9. Where a decision is made that 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 Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Partnership Procedures.

6. Needs of Social Worker / Service / 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 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.

Trix procedures

Only valid for 48hrs