Case Records for Children in Care (Including Retention)
IMPORTANT NOTE: Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (GODDARD INQUIRY) - As of November 2015, all records relating to child protection, safeguarding and the provision of services to children must be retained, pending the conclusion of this national inquiry. This supersedes all other guidance relating to the retention and destruction of records, and applies to all Council records relating to children's services.
AMENDMENTIn September 2017, this chapter was updated and should be read throughout.
1. The Case Record
A written case record must be established and maintained for each child.
The record must include:
- The child's Care Plan, including any changes made to the Care Plan and any subsequent plans to include the Health Plan, Placement Plan and Personal Education Plan;
- Reports of Health Assessments;
- Any other document created or considered as part of any assessment of the child's needs, or of any review of their case including education assessments;
- Any court order relating to the child;
- Details of any arrangements for the responsible authority's functions to be discharged by an independent fostering provider or provider of social work services.
These should be regarded as the minimum requirements for the case record. The Statutory Guidance recommends that records should also include:
- Details of arrangements for contact;
- Copies of reports provided during court proceedings such as guardian's reports and specialist assessments;
- Additional information about educational progress;
- Copies of all the documents used to seek information, provide information or record views given to the authority in the course of planning and reviewing the child's case and review reports;
- Records of visits; and
- Other correspondence which relates to the child.
It is also recommended that any contribution that the child may wish to make, such as written material, photographs, school certificates and similar items, should be included. Care must be taken to ensure that the child retains either copies or originals of information which will form part of his/her own progress file to keep with him/her. Any papers temporarily placed in the record which are the property of the child should be clearly marked as such.
The records should be maintained in such a way that it is easy to trace the process of decision-making and in particular the views of the child and parents.
The child's record should be separate from other records, such as those relating to a foster carer or children's home, which are not solely concerned with the individual child. Where some information on one of these other records is relevant to the child, a duplicate entry should appear in the child's record.
Records should not be amalgamated even in the case of siblings, although a degree of cross-reference and duplicate entry will be necessary.
2. Retention and Confidentiality of Records
The case record must be kept until the 75th anniversary of the child's date of birth, or 15 years from the date of death in the case of a child who dies before reaching the age of 18.
The case record must be kept secure, and any necessary steps taken to ensure that information contained in it is treated as confidential, subject only to statutory rights of access or court orders granting access.
The Data Protection Act applies to both paper/manual and electronic records.
The retention of a child's record will depend upon the nature of involvement of the local authority with the child and family:Click here to view Children's Services - Retention of Records.