Recording and Information Sharing

1. Introduction

A child's records are an important source of information for them. They provide information about the sequence of events which brought about Children's Social Care intervention into their life and (in many instances) explain the reasons for decisions about their care. These can be key to helping a child to understand themselves and their past. It may also be helpful for the child in later life when they want to understand more about their childhood. See Keeping Memories.

As a professional it is really important that you contribute to these records and keep a daily log of events about all children/young people placed with you.

This will help you to contribute to making plans about the child/young person's future.

Records also help to make sure that situations are clearly understood and this can help if allegations are made against you. They may also be used to contribute towards a Court hearing or to make important decisions about the child/young person.

Try to write down things as soon as they happen, including the date and time, who was present and what exactly was said. Notes should be brief and to the point.

Case records should  reflect children's lives and how you are supporting the child. They should reflect a child's achievements and clearly relate to the plans for their futures. Records should help a child understand  their histories, background and experiences. They are able to see them, challenge them or contribute to them as they wish, with appropriate support.

If you think that something is so private that the young person should not see what you are going to write, you should contact your supervising social worker to talk about this and how this should be recorded.

The Fostering Service will provide you with records which you will complete for each child/young person in your care. Your Supervising Social Worker may look at these during supervision meetings.

You should use a diary to record appointments, meetings and arrangements including any leisure activities the child or young person is involved in

At the Placement Planning Meeting, it should be made clear to parents, and children  (depending on their age) what you will be recording, how this will be used and how long the records will be kept. This helps to develop an open and honest relationship; you will only be recording exactly what happens.

2. What to Record

  • Contact - with the child's family/others, how was the child, how was the family/others, when they did not turn up and any reason given;
  • Details of visits, meetings with social workers or other professionals and the child's reaction if any;
  • School/nursery/educational setting - any important conversations you have with school, open evening, concerns or good things;
  • Dates of medical or dental appointments and treatment given. Include dates of cancelled or rearranged appointments;
  • Dates and types of immunisation;
  • Date, type and length of any illnesses;
  • Details of any accidents or injuries, however slight. Name any witnesses and action taken. Record the time, date and name of the social worker to whom the incident was reported;
  • Comments the child makes that give you cause for concern, record these using the child's own words;
  • Details of the child's behaviour that causes concern. Record their actual behaviour, what happened before the behaviour and how you dealt with it;
  • Any positive improvements, achievements and significant events for the child;
  • Dates when the child is away from the foster home – with family, friends, school trips, introductions to new carers;
  • If the child/young person goes missing;
  • Details of times when the child is with other carers such as babysitters and who they were;
  • Any involvement with the Police;
  • Details of any theft or damage caused by the child;
  • Details of any specific incidents e.g. if the child goes missing, events or changes of circumstances of your household. Include any complaint disagreements with the child or their family;
  • Any significant milestones in the child's development such as their first word or first steps;
  • Any other significant event or information.

3. Records - the Child/Young Person

When a child/young person is placed with you, the child's social worker will give you:

  • Health Care Plan;
  • Care Plan, including any risk assessments;
  • Personal Education Plan;
  • Placement Plan (which will be developed in consultation with you);
  • Any notes from Looked After Reviews;
  • Education Health and Care Plan (if the child has additional needs).

If there are any further reviews about the child/young person's progress, you should attend the review and receive copies of the minutes. Copies of all these documents should be kept as part of the child's records.

You should ask the child their views, wishes and feelings and make sure their voice is heard when planning care and support. They should also be told when this is not possible and why.

4. Personal Information and Information Sharing

All records, irrespective of whether they are paper or electronic, should be securely kept and electronic messaging (e.g. e-mails) should also be sent in a secure and safe way so as to preserve their confidential and professional nature.

You may need to share limited information with close family members and your own children depending on their age and understanding. If you are unsure about how much to share ask the child's social worker and/or the supervising social worker.

You can share basic information with doctors; health visitors etc., but if they need further information that you are unsure whether you can share, give them the social worker's contact details. If professionals visit the child/young person at home you should ask to see their identification card.

Whenever personal information is shared with another person or agency, it should always be recorded and for what purpose.

If you are attending a meeting and information is shared with you, make sure you know whether you can share this information with the child, young person or parents before sharing this information.

At times effective sharing of information is essential for the early identification of need.

5. Foster Carer Records

You will have information kept on you including your form F (or equivalent) assessment, supervision meetings, any allegations, a list of the children you have supported  and training and development records.

These will be kept for at least 10 years after the date that your approval was terminated.

6. Breaches of Confidentiality

If personal data is shared without the consent of the person or when there was no legal basis for the sharing, the Foster Service  will carry out an investigation into the circumstances.

Breaches of confidentiality will be taken seriously and may result in action being taken for example a review of your approval. 

7. Training and Support

The Fostering Service will provide training around recording, data protection and information sharing. However if there are anything that is not clear then you should seek advice from the supervising social worker and/or children's social worker.