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.
1. Death of or Serious Injury to 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:
The child's social worker or, if not previously known to Children's Social Care, the duty worker receiving the information will:
|1.2||The line manager will immediately inform the Designated Manager (Death or Serious Injury to a Child) by telephone and provide follow up information in writing as soon as possible afterwards.|
The Designated Manager (Death or Serious Injury to a Child) will:
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:
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. E-mail: email@example.com 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 Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Safeguarding Partnership Procedures, Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews.|
2. Death of, or Serious Injury, to a Looked After 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:
The child's social worker will:
The line manager will:
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 Workers / Team / Manager / Carers should be followed.
3. Needs of Social Workers / Team / Manager / Carers
When a serious incident such as the death of a child occurs there is a two fold duty i.e. to ensure the effective management of any investigation alongside a duty of care to employees. This can be a difficult balance to manage as it is important to ensure that an investigation is carried out freely whilst at the same time ensuring that individual members of staff's needs are fully considered. Directors and managers will need to ensure that any investigation required can be carried out unimpeded whilst at the same time ensuring that people are neither left in, nor placed in, a potentially stressful situation. It is particularly important to be aware that there is a risk of increased stress if a member of staff is left isolated at such a vulnerable time.
Managers and/or other employees may also be deeply upset but be striving to appear strong for the sake of their colleagues or their teams. Conversely, they may not be feeling upset and can be confused by this. Dealing with a serious incident is often unknown territory and therefore it is important to provide opportunities for people to discuss how they are feeling and not to assume that another person's feelings can be known.
Roles and Responsibilities
Direct Line Manager
Managers are responsible for deciding which cases require notification to their Service Manager, Assistant Director and Director, and for deciding how to communicate with their staff in accordance with the serious incident reporting protocol.
In most cases, the direct line manager will be responsible for communicating with an employee throughout the process unless an alternative contact is more appropriate. They should inform the member of staff involved at the earliest possible time following the incident.
It may be necessary to consider disciplinary action but before any action can be taken an appropriate investigation must be carried out in line with Chapter 4.5.8 SCIP procedures which addresses the death or serious injury to a child.
The line manager should ensure that Human Resources advice is sought whenever a serious incident occurs.
Providing support when a Serious Incident is reported
Immediate Support: Individuals react differently in these situations and, depending on the circumstance, it may be necessary to arrange immediate professional counselling for an individual. Frequent contact between the employee and their manager/contact person is vital. Ideally this should be for a few minutes daily either in person or by phone, perhaps at the end of the day. If more direct contact is difficult, a short personal note is better than no contact at all.
Managers must remember that any decision must take into account any equality and diversity considerations. For example, does the employee have a disability or is the employee pregnant? These are only two of the protected characteristics that mean that managers will need to support a member of staff in a particular way.
Equally it may be important to arrange professional help for a team.
Where possible, a means of monitoring the take up and effectiveness of the support without compromising confidentiality or trust should be sought.
Managers should agree with Human Resources how information will be shared and contact maintained with the member of staff e.g.:
- Who the main point of contact will be for the employee i.e. whether it will be the manager or another named person;
- How support and counselling are to be offered;
- If and how an employee can remain in work and whether alternative work should be considered;
- Whether or not suspension is appropriate.
The role of Human Resources is to advise and support managers to ensure that they carry out their duty of care to staff when a serious incident occurs.
Depending on the facts as they are known at the time, it may be necessary to suspend the individual if no alternative course of action can be found. Arrangements for the suspension of staff are set out in the PCC disciplinary procedure. The decision to suspend will have a significant impact on an individual; therefore it is essential that considerations be given to:
- How the member of staff will be kept updated about the progress of an investigation;
- How they will be informed of any feedback from an investigation;
- How links will be maintained with the team so that the staff member is kept informed of other matters occurring within the team/unit.
Returning to Work: It is often useful to arrange a visit back to the office before the employee returns to work. For some people, returning on a part-time basis for the first few days can be helpful. It is natural for the employee to be less productive at first, and the manager should ensure that any health and safety and equality and diversity considerations are dealt with in situations where reduced powers of concentration could put the employee or others at risk.
Managers and Personnel should consider the impact on other people, including themselves. It can be particularly distressing to be involved in a serious incident such as the death of a child so support should be made available if appropriate.
Longer term monitoring: Depending on whether or not the employee has any personal support outside work, contact may taper off over time but it should be remembered that coping with the trauma of a serious incident can be long term.
Upon completion of all investigations the manager must ensure that members of staff receive feedback and debriefing in advance of the completion of the overview report of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Safeguarding Children Partnership.