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New Jersey Department of Children and Families Policy Manual




Child Protection and Permanency

Effective Date:






Health Services




End of Life Care



Death of a Child in Under Supervision


Reporting the Death          12-10-2007

Reportable deaths require immediate oral notification (by telephone or in person) from the CP&P/DCF employee first becoming aware of the incident to the Local Office Manager or IAIU Regional Supervisor, who initiates immediate notifications within DCF.

See “Immediate Oral Notifications,” in CP&P-VIII-A-1-100, Child Fatality and Near Fatality Reporting.

Informing the Parents       2-15-91

When a child in a CP&P-supervised placement dies, the parents are notified immediately. If the child's parents are not available, other relatives responsible for the child are notified of the death. This is done in person by the Worker. Sharing this information by telephone, telegram or letter is appropriate only when it is impossible to visit the family in person.

All available facts are given to the family. As more information becomes known, the family is informed.

The Worker discusses with the parents or relatives their plans for the child's funeral and burial and advises them of CP&P policy on funeral and burial expenses. See CP&P-V-A-6-400, section entitled Funeral and Burial Arrangements.

Informing the Resource Family Parents          12-10-2007

When a child in a CP&P supervised placement dies, the Worker must notify the resource family parents (or other caregivers) of the death, if they are unaware of it.

The Worker consults with the Deputy Attorney General at the time of a child's death to ensure that all CP&P actions are consistent with New Jersey law.

Investigation of the Death            2-15-91

Whenever the death of a CP&P-supervised child is reported to CP&P, the circumstances surrounding the incident are investigated.

If the death is alleged to have occurred as a result of child abuse or neglect, the investigation includes, but is not limited to:

·         Immediately evaluating the home/facility, with particular regard to the care and safety of other children in the home/facility;

·         A full record review (see CP&P-II-A-1-100);

·         Contacting those persons who may have information about the child's death, e.g., parents, resource parents, relatives, facility staff, pediatrician, attending physician, physician who signed death certificate, police, school personnel, other people living in the child's home;

·         Review of hospital records, police/fire department reports, death certificate, autopsy report, other relevant documents.

Policy and procedures as outlined in CP&P-II-C-5, Investigation, are followed, including reporting to the county prosecutor at CP&P-II-C-4-200.

Sudden or unexpected deaths of children under 3 years old are also investigated by the County Medical Examiner per N.J.S.A. 52:17B-86. If the suspected cause of death is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), the parents or legal guardian may request that an autopsy be performed by the State or County Medical Examiner. An autopsy is also performed if the Medical Examiner, assignment judge, County Prosecutor, or Attorney General believes it necessary. The findings of the autopsy are reported to the State Department of Health within 48 hours of the death of the child. The State Medical Examiner, County Medical Examiner and the County Prosecutor are also given the findings of the autopsy. The parents or legal guardian may receive a copy of the report upon request. CP&P may obtain the report upon request. CP&P may obtain the report from the County Medical Examiner's Office if it is needed for a CP&P investigation.

Case Recording and Related Documents       12-10-2007

The information gathered during the investigation of the death of a child is entered and approved in the NJ SPIRIT application, as per case recording policy.

File hospital, physician, police, medical examiner, fire department records, and other relevant documents in the child's case record.