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Child Death Investigations: Understanding the Investigation Process and Best Practices


Child death investigations are some of the most heart-wrenching cases that law enforcement and child welfare professionals encounter. It is essential that these investigations are conducted with the utmost care and diligence to determine the cause of death accurately.


Here are 10 facts about child death investigations that every child welfare professional should know:


  1. A child death investigation is an official inquiry conducted by law enforcement, medical examiners, and child welfare professionals to determine the cause of a child's death.

  2. Child death investigations are essential in preventing future child fatalities, identifying potential criminal activity, and ensuring that those responsible for a child's death are held accountable.

  3. The most common causes of child death are accidental, including drowning, suffocation, and accidental injuries.

  4. Child death investigations may involve forensic pathology, toxicology, and criminal investigation techniques to determine the cause and manner of a child's death.

  5. The investigation may include interviewing witnesses, collecting physical evidence, and reviewing medical records to determine the circumstances leading to the child's death.

  6. The investigation may also involve examining the child's home environment and interviewing family members to determine any potential neglect or abuse that may have contributed to the child's death.

  7. Child death investigations may also involve the involvement of Child Protective Services (CPS) to ensure the safety of any surviving siblings or children in the home.

  8. Child death investigations require a multidisciplinary approach involving law enforcement, medical examiners, child welfare professionals, and mental health professionals to ensure that the investigation is conducted thoroughly and accurately.

  9. The investigation must be conducted with sensitivity and compassion to ensure that the child and their family are treated with dignity and respect throughout the process.

  10. Child death investigations can be emotionally challenging for everyone involved, and it is essential that professionals involved receive support and guidance to prevent burnout and compassion fatigue.


Child death investigations are an integral part of ensuring the safety and protection of children. It is crucial that these investigations are conducted thoroughly and accurately to prevent future child fatalities and ensure justice for the child and their family.

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