The most tragic consequence of child abuse and neglect is a child fatality. Child protective services, law enforcement, and medical professionals often work together to investigate and respond in cases of possible child maltreatment deaths. The following resources provide strategies for responding collaboratively to investigate child fatalities or near fatalities, including State and local examples.
A Guide to Death Scene Investigation
U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice (2011)
Identifies what investigators must do to adhere to strict guidelines to help identify suspects and close an investigation.
Investigating Child Fatalities (PDF - 482 KB)
Walsh, B. (2005)
U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Preventions
Provides practical information to professionally conduct an investigation and be able to conclude if the death was attributed by abuse or neglect.
Rapid Response and Child Death Protocol for Unexpected Deaths
Safegarding Children Board (2016)
Clarifies the process of responding to unexpected deaths of children and classifies the roles and responsibilities for agencies involved.
Child Fatality Response (PDF - 1,720 KB)
State of Florida Department of Children and Families (2016)
Systematized requirements and responses for collaborated efforts specific to child fatality investigations.
Child Fatality Protocol Handbook 2016 (PDF - 643 KB)
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (2016)
Designed to be a statewide model for best practice and provides task-specific details through a child fatality case and its review process.
Michigan Child Injury and Death Coordinated and Comprehensive Investigation Resource Protocol (PDF - 1,210 KB)
Governor’s Task Force on Children’s Justice (2008)
Michigan Public Health Institute
Provides guidelines and information to ensure cross-system children maltreatment investigation cases are closed successfully using appropriate methods.