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The role of parents in the Child Death Review Process

Devine, Lauren



This article considers whether evidential and procedural issues identified in relation to public family law social work assessment of families can be used to further understanding of the Child Death Review Process. The Process is an under-researched but important aspect of statutory family assessment. Pre-litigation stages of family assessment, particularly in relation to child protection and safeguarding are undertaken within the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families, set out in Working Together to Safeguard Children. The Child Death Review Process, also in Working Together to Safeguard Children is applied in cases of child deaths categorised as ‘sudden’ and ‘unexpected’. Assessment of bereaved parents is particularly sensitive and highlights the problems of mixing investigatory assessment with measures intended to be supportive. This paper questions the function of the Child Death Review Process, asking whether it forms part of a drift t owards increasingly intrusive state surveillance of families and particularly parents, or is an attempt to ‘work together’ with parents following bereavement. If it is an investigatory process there are ramifications for subsequent decision making, including decisions made by courts in public family law or criminal proceedings. A clearer framework for assessment and inclusion of parents as part of (as opposed to subjects of) the process is indicated. Alternatively the process should be removed from Working Together and carried out within the criminal justice framework, the public health framework and the Coroner’s framework.


Devine, L. (2015). The role of parents in the Child Death Review Process

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Apr 1, 2015
Journal Argument & Critique
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords child death review process, working together to safeguard children, public family law, social work assessment, child protection, safeguarding, BRI Public Inquiry
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