Caring for Our Childen (CFOC)

Chapter 3: Health Promotion and Protection

3.6 Management of Illness

3.6.4 Reporting Illness and Death Death

Each facility should have a plan in place for responding to any death relevant to children enrolled in the facility and their families. The plan should describe protocols the program will follow and resources available for children, families, and staff.

If a facility experiences the death of a child or adult, the following should be done:

  1. If a child or adult dies while at the facility:
    1. The caregiver/teacher(s) responsible for any children who observed or were in the same room where the death occurred, should take the children to a different room, while other staff tend to appropriate response/follow-up. Minimal explanations should be provided until direction is received from the proper authorities. Supportive and reassuring comments should be provided to children directly affected;
    2. Designated staff should:
    3. Immediately notify emergency medical personnel;
    4. Immediately notify the child’s parents/guardians or adult’s emergency contact;
    5. Notify the Licensing agency and law enforcement the same day the death occurs;
    6. Follow all law enforcement protocols regarding the scene of the death:
      1. Do not disturb the scene;
      2. Do not show the scene to others;
      3. Reserve conversation about the event until having completed all interviews with law enforcement.
    7. Provide age-appropriate information for children, parents/guardians and staff;
    8. Make resources for support available to staff, parents and children;
  2. For a suspected Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) death or other unexplained deaths:
    1. Seek support and information from local, state, or national SIDS resources;
    2. Provide SIDS information to the parents/guardians of the other children in the facility;
    3. Provide age-appropriate information to the other children in the facility;
    4. Provide appropriate information for staff at the facility;
  3. If a child or adult known to the children enrolled in the facility dies while not at the facility:
    1. Provide age-appropriate information for children, parents/guardians and staff;
    2. Make resources for support available to staff, parents and children.

Facilities may release specific information about the circumstances of the child or adult’s death that the authorities and the deceased member’s family agrees the facility may share.

If the death is due to suspected child maltreatment, the caregiver/teacher is mandated to report this to child protective services.

Depending on the cause of death (SIDS, suffocation or other infant death, injury, maltreatment etc.), there may be a need for updated education on the subject for caregivers/teachers and/or children as well as implementation of improved health and safety practices.

Following the steps described in this standard would constitute prudent action (1-3). Accurate information given to parents/guardians and children will help them understand the event and facilitate their support of the caregiver/teacher (4-7).
It is important that caregivers/teachers are knowledgeable about SIDS and that they take proper steps so that they are not falsely accused of child abuse and neglect. The licensing agency and/or a SIDS agency support group (e.g., CJ Foundation for SIDS at, the National Action Partnership to Promote Safe Sleep (NAPPSS) at, and First Candle at can offer support and counseling to caregivers/teachers.
Center, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS Safe Sleep Practices and Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID)/SIDS Risk Reduction Recognizing and Reporting Suspected Child Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation Immunity for Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect Preventing and Identifying Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma Care for Children Who Have Experienced Abuse/Neglect Facility Layout to Reduce Risk of Child Abuse and Neglect
  1. Moon, R. Y., K. M. Patel, S. J. M. Shaefer. 2000. Sudden infant death syndrome in child care settings. Pediatrics 106:295-300.
  2. Moon, R. Y., T. Calabrese, L. Aird. 2008. Reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome in child care and changing provider practices: Lessons learned from a demonstration project. Pediatrics 122:788-98.
  3. Moon, R. Y., L. Kotch, L. Aird. 2006. State child care regulations regarding infant sleep environment since the Healthy Child Care America – Back to Sleep Campaign. Pediatrics 118:73-83.
  4. Boston Medical Center. Good grief program.
  5. Rivlin, D. The good grief program of Boston Medical Center: What do children need? Boston Medical Center.
  6. Trozzi, M. 1999. Talking with children about Loss: Words, strategies, and wisdom to help children cope with death, divorce, and other difficult times. New York: Berkley Publishing Group.
  7. Knapp, J., D. Mulligan-Smith, Committee on Pediatric Emergency Medicine. 2005. Death of a child in the emergency department. Pediatrics 115:1432-37.