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W3C Compliance

6.6.7 Death or Serious Injury to a Child (Including Looked After and Child In Need)

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

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

These steps are in addition to the carrying out Merton Safeguarding Children Board Procedures in relation to the need to hold a Serious Case Review and the work of the Child Death Overview Panel.

This chapter uses the expression Designated Manager (Death of a Child). This person should also be notified in circumstances where there is a serious injury to a child. Within Merton the Designated Manager (Death of a Child), is the LADO and the Lead Principal Social Worker, Safeguarding Standards and Training.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was reviewed and amended in May 2017 to reflect the current organisational structure and decision-making.


Contents

  1. Death of or Serious Injury to a Child in the Community
  2. Death of or Serious Injury to a Child in Care
  3. Needs of Social Worker / Team / Manager / Carer


1. Death of or Serious Injury of a Child in the Community

Where information comes to notice of the suspicious death or serious injury to a child living in the community, the following tasks are required.

1.1

The allocated social worker or, if unallocated, the duty social worker receiving the information will:

  1. Immediately inform his or her supervisory line manager; which is likely to be the Expert Practitioner, Assistant Team Manager or Team Manager;
  2. Obtain as much information as possible on the circumstances surrounding the cause of death/serious injury and pass this to their supervisory manager, if not the Assistant Team Manager or Team Manager.
1.2 The social worker’s supervisory line manager will immediately inform the LADO by telephone and provide a case analysis in writing as soon as possible afterwards.
1.3

The Designated Manager (Death of a Child) will:

  1. In form the Director of Children, Schools and Families or in their absence the Assistant Director, who will notify the members as necessary;
  2. Ascertain in full the specific details of the child’s death from the Police or other reporting source;
  3. Request that the Service Support Manager checks Merton's social care information system records on the child and their family and print out any information held;
  4. Collect any hard copy archived and/or current files held on the child and their family and secure them at Civic Centre, London Road, Morden, SM4 5DX;
  5. Arrange through the Service Support Manager that the relevant partnership agencies are duly informed of the death/serious injury and remind them to secure their files;
  6. Consider the circumstances of the death/serious injury, in accordance with the Local Safeguarding Children Board Procedures and Merton Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures, including the need to hold a Serious Case Review or referral to the Child Death Overview Panel;
  7. In form the Secretary of State for Education; and
  8. In form Ofsted using the Notification Form for Serious Childcare Incidents.
1.4

The report to the Secretary of State will include the following information and must be approved by the Designated Manager (Death of a Child) before it is sent:

  • Local authority;
  • Child's name;
  • Parents' names;
  • Date of birth;
  • Date of death/serious injury;
  • Child's legal status;
  • Child's ethnicity, religion, language, disability;
  • Cause of death as on Death Certificate;
  • Dates if any when child was subject to a Child Protection Plan;
  • The date and findings of the Post Mortem, Inquest and any criminal proceedings initiated. It may be necessary to notify these details at a later date;
  • Brief details of the case;
  • Local authority duties in respect of the child;
  • Intention of the local authority to hold an independent management review;
  • Policy and practice issues raised and intended local authority action (to follow later if necessary).
1.5 Where a Serious Case Review is to be held, the Assistant Director, Children’s Social Care and Youth Inclusion 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 Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015 and the Local 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 Director, Children, Schools and Families, who must endorse the report.
1.6 The recommendations and action plan of the Internal Management Review report should be reported to the Senior Leadership Team of Children's Services as well as to the Merton 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 (Death of a Child) or their nominee.
1.7 If a decision is made not to hold a Serious Case Review by the Chair of the Local Safeguarding Children Board, this will be notified to the Department for Education in accordance with the Merton Safeguarding Children Board Procedures. However, the Designated Manager (Death of a Child), may still decide that there are issues arising from the case which justify an internal management review as described in paragraph 1.5 and paragraph 1.6.


2. Death of or Serious Injury to a 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 his or her 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 (Death of a Child) by telephone and provide follow up information in writing as soon as possible afterwards;
  2. Advise┬áMerton’s Legal Department 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 (Death of a Child) 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. 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 through his or her administrative staff to inform other 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 Head of Service, appropriate meetings under the Local Safeguarding Children Board Procedures, including the need to hold a Serious Case Review;
  7. Inform the Secretary of State for Education; and
  8. Inform Ofsted using the Notification Form for Serious Childcare Incidents.
2.4

The report to the Department for Education will include the following information in the order shown:

  • Local authority;
  • Child's name;
  • Parents' names and support being offered to them;
  • Date of birth;
  • Date of death/serious injury;
  • Child's legal status;
  • Child's ethnicity, religion, language, disability;
  • Cause of death as on Death Certificate;
  • Dates if any when child was subject to a Child Protection Plan;
  • The date and findings of the Post Mortem, Inquest and any criminal proceedings initiated. It may be necessary to notify these details at a later date;
  • Brief details of the case, including type of placement;
  • Local authority duties in respect of the child;
  • Intention of the local authority to hold an independent management review;
  • Policy and practice issues raised and intended local authority action (to follow later if necessary).

In the event of a Serious Case Review and/or internal management review being required, the steps outlined in Section 3, Needs of Social Worker/Team/Manager/Carer should be followed.


3. 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 ongoing conduct of the case;
  • The provision of a clear explanation of the process of a Serious Case 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 Head of Service;
  • 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.

End