Department for Community Based Services

Standards of Practice Online Manual

2.14.2 Notification and Funeral Preparation Regarding a Child Fatality

Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Department for Community Based Services
Division of Protection and Permanency
Standards of Practice Online Manual
Chapter 2-Child Protective Services (CPS) Intake and Investigation
2.14.2 Notification and Funeral Preparation Regarding a Child Fatality

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Legal Authority/Introduction



Practice Guidance

  • The notification of the birth parents regarding a fatality or near fatality is recommended to be a personal visit. 
  • All personal and family resources, including the child’s trust fund and insurance in the child’s name, are to be exhausted prior to approval of Cabinet funds for funeral and burial expenses.
  • Funeral arrangements remain the responsibility of the birth parents whenever possible unless parental rights have been terminated or a decision is made by the SRA or designee that the Cabinet will assume that responsibility. 
  • The selection of a funeral home, mortician, casket and burial lot are to be based on estimates of cost that are reasonable and on consideration of the choice of the birth parents.
  • The SSW may purchase clothing for burial or the birth family, foster family, extended family, etc. may provide clothing.
  • The SSW may select flowers, billing the Department and forwarding the invoice to the regional billing clerk.
  • Arrangements for religious services may be made with a clergyman of the birth parents’ faith. If the birth parents’ faith is unknown, a clergyman of the foster parents’ faith may conduct services.
  • Trauma is inherent in fatality and near fatality investigations, and in situations where a child dies while actively involved with the agency.  SOP 1.13 Debriefing Protection and Permanency (DPP) Staff on Reaction and Emotional Responses to Trauma was developed to assist P&P staff in coping with reactions to trauma.


Birth Parent Notification

The service region administrator (SRA) or designee: 

  1. Appoints a SSW or FSOS to immediately notify the child’s parents of the fatality or near fatality when:
    1. The child is in the custody of the Cabinet and placed out of the birth parent’s home in a:
      1. Foster home;
      2. Cabinet facility; 
      3. Psychiatric unit/hospital; or
      4. Private child-caring facility; and
    2. Parent’s parental rights are intact;
  2. Determines whether to notify birth parents when parental rights have been terminated, there has been ongoing contact or other special circumstances and a finalized adoption has not occurred.
Funeral Arrangements

The SSW: 

  1. Explores with the birth parents their ability to accept financial responsibility for the funeral when the child is in the custody of the Cabinet;
  2. Pre-plans the funeral with the birth parents, and/or caregiver if the birth parents are not involved, when a child is in the custody of the Cabinet and their death is imminent, which includes the following steps:
    1. Contacting funeral homes to get cost estimates for a pre-planned funeral, which includes the burial plot and opening of the grave;
    2. Submitting to the FSOS:
      1. A Request for Approval of Special Expense (sample form) for the funeral to the FSOS for review, outlining the specific needs and circumstances pertinent to the request; and
      2. Copies of funeral cost estimates;
  3. Files the Request for Approval for Special Expense and the funeral cost estimate of the funeral home selected in the child’s case record upon approval by the SRA;
  4. Notifies the birth parents and/or caregiver, if the birth parents are not involved, to inform the approved funeral home and proceed with the funeral arrangements;
  5. Forwards invoices upon receipt, along with the special expense approval from the SRA, to the regional billing specialist for processing as normal;
  6. Follows the procedures as outlined in the Practice Guidance section of this SOP for funeral arrangements and payment when a child is in the custody of the Cabinet and death occurs without the opportunity for a pre-planned funeral.


  1. Upon review of the special expense form, submits the Request for Approval of Special Expense and copies of the funeral cost estimates to the SRA for approval.


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