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Interagency Training: Establishing a Course in the Management of Unexpected Childhood Death

NCJ Number
Child Abuse Review Volume: 17 Issue: 5 Dated: September-October 2008 Pages: 352-361
Joanna Garstang; Peter Sidebotham
Date Published
September 2008
10 pages
This article reports on the findings of a British survey of the heads of key organizations involved in the field of infant death and 81 individuals working in child health, police, or children’s services, in order to question them about the feasibility of a training course in the multiagency management of unexpected childhood death.
The key professional organizations were positive in their support for the course. The need for advanced training in the management of unexpected childhood death has been highlighted by various reports by some of these organizations. The replies received from individual professionals were also favorable, although the response rate to the police and social-work questionnaires was disappointing (42 percent). The proposed course content was deemed appropriate by most respondents, along with the relevant level of personnel for the target audience. Further, the respondents indicated there were no similar courses being offered elsewhere, leaving professionals unprepared for implementing the new guidelines for multiagency cooperation and response to sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI). The course, which was developed by a team of multidisciplinary professionals, provides up-to-date knowledge of the nature and causes of death in childhood, including causes of SUDI. It prepares professionals to respond to the needs of grieving parents and families. Further, it addresses the complementary roles of various professionals in the management of cases of unexpected childhood death and facilitates the development of skills for conducting an interagency investigation into an unexpected childhood death in accordance with guidelines set by the Department for Education and Skills. The course will also prepare trainees to participate in the investigations and reviews of unexpected childhood deaths. Following a pilot of the first course presented, an evaluation involved structured feedback from and a self-assessment exercise by all course participants. 4 tables and 10 references