Death of current or former client

Follow this procedure in the event of the death of a current or former client.

Document ID number 1507, version 3, 23 November 2017.

Introduction

If a child dies who is a client (case is open) at the time of their death or where their case has been closed for less than 12 months, a child death inquiry occurs in accordance with the Commission for Children and Young People Act 2012.

The child death inquiry considers services provided to the child and aims to promote continuous improvement  of policies and practices for the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable children and young people.

Consult the Office of Professional Practice to clarify information and actions if needed.

For additional information see Death of a current or former client - advice.

Procedure

Case practitioner tasks

  • Inform your supervisor or the team manager immediately you become aware of a death or suspected death of a current or former client.
  • Complete a category one incident report.
  • In the event of the death of a current client – complete all case recording up to the time of the death, including paper file and CRIS.
    • Case records must be preserved in their entirety.
    • Record the child as deceased.
    • Do not make amendments or additions to existing case records. If corrections or clarifications are required, make a new case note referencing the original entry.
    • Use a new case note to record any case activity not yet recorded before the death.
    • Any data fix request must include a rationale and be approved by a team manager.
  • If the child was subject to an order or proceedings before a Children's Court, notify the court of the death, and consult the CPLO or rural solicitor about withdrawal of the order or proceedings.
  • Seek support and debriefing from your supervisor.
  • If asked to provide statements surrounding the circumstances of the child’s death as part of a coroner’s investigation, seek advice from your supervisor. Legal services will assist with this request and must review a statement before it is provided to a coroner.
  • Consider participating in child death review processes.
  • Notify other professionals who have a role.

Team manager tasks

  • Inform the area manager and the child protection operations manager of the death, as well as the Office of Professional Practice.
  • Check that a category 1 client Incident report is prepared in accordance with incident reporting guidelines.
  • Provide a copy of the incident report to the Commission for Children and Young People and the Office of Professional Practice.
  • Make sure CRIS contains a record of the death, and a record of any advice provided to police or the Coroner’s Court if required.
  • If requested by police or Coroner’s Court, make a copy of the client’s paper and CRIS file and provide it for use in a coronial investigation. Reporter details  do not need to be removed as the file is being provided for the purpose of a coronial investigation. However, police or the Coroner’s Court must be informed records contain confidential reporter details and have not been redacted. Watermark the documents with ‘Released to Coroner ONLY’ or ‘Released to VicPol ONLY’. Police or the Coroner’s Court should be informed the records are to be disposed of securely when no longer required, and the department should be given an opportunity to review the documents for redaction if they are to be duplicated or shared.

If the case has been closed for over three months the Child Protection Information Release Team in central office is responsible for providing a copy of the file.

  • Arrange for affected staff to receive independent debriefing and support through the Employee Assistance Program and/or the Critical Incident Stress Management Service .
  • Make sure all relevant persons are aware of the death and oversee a coordinated response to the death if necessary.
  • Oversee the process of advice to out-of-home care services and other external services if required.
  • In the event of the death of an Aboriginal child – contact ACSASS as soon as possible. There may be sensitivities extending through the Aboriginal community. These issues should be discussed with ACSASS.
  • Oversee assessment of the safety and needs of other children in the family and direct timely follow-up as necessary.
  • Consider the family’s support needs and guide timely follow-up as necessary. This may include an offer of practical support with funeral costs and arrangements.
  • Liaise with police when required.
  • Oversee staff debriefing.

Child protection operations manager tasks

  • Provide a ten-day ministerial briefing, including analysis of practice.
  • Confirm the death of a current client has been reported to the Coroner’s Court. If not, advise the Office of Professional Practice who will report the death.
  • Confirm the reportable death of a former client (a death that appears to have been unexpected, unnatural or violent, or resulted directly or indirectly from accident or injury) or reviewable (if the deceased child is the second or subsequent child of the parent to have died) has been reported to the Coroner’s Court. If not, advise the Office of Professional practice, who will report the death.
  • If the deceased is a former client whose case has been closed for more than 12 months, consider what action may be appropriate. If the circumstances of the death are likely to attract public interest, a ministerial briefing may be appropriate.
  • Oversee briefing processes and ongoing actions.

Supervisor tasks

  • Provide ongoing supervision and support.
  • Oversee staff debriefing.
  • Oversee follow-up and support to family.
  • Assist staff if they are required to give statements surrounding the circumstances of the child’s death as part of a coroner’s investigation. Seek advice from legal services regarding any request to give statements and ensure that legal services reviews any statement before it is provided to a coroner.
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