The death of a looked after child: guidance

Revised guidance to clarify the roles and responsibilities of agencies specifically in relation to the notification requirements under regulation 6 of the 2009 Regulations on the death of looked after children.

4. Process to be followed after initial notification

Once the initial notification has been issued, the local authority should liaise with their local child death review group, and where appropriate the CPC/Chief Officers Group, to agree the review approach and how best to support the family.

Local authorities should note that, following the establishment of the National Hub for Reviewing and Learning from the deaths of Children and Young People, all child deaths should be reviewed. A range of review processes are currently in place when a child or young person dies. Therefore, early discussion between child/public protection leads, NHS Board and local authority implementation leads for child death reviews, and relevant senior officers from the local authority/HSCP, will be important to consider and agree the most appropriate review process.

The National guidance for child protection committees undertaking learning reviews recommends that where there is a death of a looked after child then local authorities should always consider a learning review. The full criteria for undertaking a learning review are set out in the national guidance. This approach provides a robust and comprehensive framework which supports multi-agency learning.

The agreed review should be proportionate and informed by the child’s individual circumstances and the services involved in their care and support. Wherever possible, there should only be one multi-agency review for each child.

If a learning review is not undertaken, local authorities must, within 28 days of the date of the child’s death, send the Care Inspectorate a full report detailing the circumstances of the death of a looked after child. It may not always be possible to supply complete information at this point if, for instance, a police investigation is still being carried out and/or criminal proceedings are outstanding. However, as full a report as possible should be supplied, with a supplementary report sent to the Care Inspectorate as soon as the additional information is available.

As per the guidance on the National Hub for reviewing and learning from child deaths, a core review dataset should then be completed online and uploaded to the National Hub via the secure electronic portal. Only one dataset should be completed per child. It should be agreed with the local area child death review group who will be best placed to do this. The Care Inspectorate will respond to reports in writing. The local authority may be asked for supplementary information, including information from other relevant bodies involved with the child.

The Scottish Ministers may either directly or through the Care Inspectorate (or any other relevant body), advise the local authority or others what, if any, further action they will take or require them to take.[3]

This may include taking steps to:

  • examine the arrangements made for the child's welfare during the time he or she was looked after
  • identify learning points which should be drawn to the attention of the local authority concerned and/or other relevant bodies (including other local authorities)
  • review legislation, policy, guidance, advice or practice in the light of a particular case or any trends emerging from deaths of children being looked after.



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