Death of a child in care

In addition to the process to be followed for all unexpected deaths, there are additional matters that need to be considered if the child was looked after.

If a child who is 'looked after' by the department dies, then the Director of Children's Services must immediately inform the chief officer.

Notifying parents and those with parental responsibility 

With modern communication there are risks that those who have parental responsibility for the child will find out very quickly. It is therefore important that the social worker and their manager inform all who have parental responsibility for the child of the death immediately. Where abuse or neglect is suspected this should be after an immediate strategy discussion.

This should then be followed by a letter of condolence from the Director of Children's Services.

Funeral arrangements

When a child who is looked after dies, in law the responsibilities revert to those who hold parental responsibility.  This is because all other court orders in respect of a child end upon the death of that child.

However, the Department may:

Decisions around what support the department will provide should be made following discussion with the family.

The Service Manager should give consideration to which members of staff should attend the funeral (usually includes the current carers, the child's social worker and a relevant manager).

Returning the child's belongings

There must be a discussion with the family around the return of the child's belongings - such a discussion must however be at an appropriate time for the family.

Review of events leading to the child's death

Following the death of (or serious injury to) a child, where abuse or neglect are known to have been a factor the Islands Child Protection Committee should carry out a serious case review (or an alternate form of review as they determine) to consider what lessons can be learnt and what should change. The executive summary of this report can be made public.

In all cases a manager independent of the case, or an external consultant, should commence a review of the case and identify a proposed timescale for completion of the report to the chair of the Islands Child Protection Committee.


TaskResponsible officerRecordTimescale
The chief officer and the chair of the Islands Child Protection Committee is to be informed of the death or serious injury to a child who was being looked after by the Department at the time of death.Service managerComputerImmediately
Decide whether action, if any, should be taken under the child protection procedures.Chair of ICPCComputerImmediately
Secure files and other agency documentation - Residential log books, foster carer files etc.Service manager to delegateN/AImmediately
Inform parents and people with parental responsibility, this should be a face to face meeting unless there are exceptional circumstances.Social worker/team or service managerComputerImmediately
Ensure the availability of appropriate support to parents regarding making funeral arrangements or, if they are not able, make funeral arrangements in keeping with the religion of the child.Service managerComputerImmediately
Arrange for an independent case review to be undertaken by an independent internal manager or an external consultantICPC chairReportImmediately
Decide what form of review should be held.ICPC chairComputerImmediately