1. Introduction
  2. What to Record
  3. Records - the Child/Young Person
  4. Personal Information
  5. Foster Carer Records

1. Introduction

As a professional it is really important that you keep a daily record 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.

It may also be helpful for the child in later life when they want to understand more about their childhood. See: Keeping Memories.

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 time, who was present and what exactly was said. Notes should be brief and to the point.

You should also try and record things in a manner that you could let the person concerned see. 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 Fostering Social Worker to talk about this and whether and how the information should be kept private.

The fostering service will provide you with record sheets which you will complete for each child/young person in your care. Your Fostering Social Worker should regularly read and countersign records during supervision meetings.

You should use a diary in which to record appointments, meetings and contact arrangements.

At the Placement Planning meeting, it should be made clear to parents and young people, (depending on their) 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

  • You are expected to keep a record of all significant events and incidents during the child’s placement with you. Include anything that you think is important, even if it seems a small detail. However, you do not have to record anything or everything each day;
  • You should ensure that all records are relevant, accurate, up to date, and stored securely. Recordings need to be clear and legible, and the language should be kept simple and free of jargon. Remember, these records should be useful to the child or young person now and in the future and you should be writing in a way that you would be happy for the child or young person to read what you have written;
Fostering Services: National Minimum Standards
26.5) Entries in records, decisions and reasons for them, are legible, clearly expressed, non-stigmatising, distinguish between fact, opinion and third party information and are signed and dated.
  • Records should be signed and kept in date order with a separate file for each child placed with you. You should avoid recording opinion and stick to the facts wherever possible, however, if you feel you need to record opinion make sure you clearly state that this is your opinion;
Fostering Services: National Minimum Standards
26.6) Information is recorded clearly in a way which will be helpful to the child when they access their files now or in the future. Children are actively encouraged to read their files, other than necessary confidential or third party information, and to correct errors and add personal statements.
  • Details of the improvements and achievements of the child you are looking after;
  • Contact - with the child’s family, how was the child, how was the family, 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. This should be recorded in the child’s Health Record book;
  • Dates and types of immunization, in your Health Record book;
  • 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;
  • 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 and when they return;
  • 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, 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;
  • An updated photo of the child.

Records held in relation to children should, as far as is possible, be made as soon after any significant event as is reasonably possible, allowing time for reflection. The record needs to be signed by the person making it and dated. Records must not be amended once written.

A separate record needs to be maintained for each child placed with you - this applies also to siblings who are individual children in their own right.

Should part of this record need to include reference to any other child in placement, then that child should be referred to by their initials only in order to respect their confidentiality.

Children’s social workers must be permitted access to read your records for the specific child for whom they have responsibility.

The record made by you should be returned to the child’s social worker or your fostering social worker once a child has moved on - whether home to birth family members, to other foster carers, or to be adopted - as this forms part of the child’s record.

You are required to contribute to the completion and amendment of records for specific children on request. This may include the Placement Information Record, Essential Information Records, Care Plans, and Assessment and Action Record

3. Records - the Child/Young Person

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

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

All information provided about a child who is or has been placed with a foster carer is confidential and governed by the Data Protection Act 1998.

It is important you keep any written information about the child/young person in a lockable cupboard or box and at the end of the placement return any information to the child’s social worker, this includes any information which you have kept electronically which should then be deleted from your computer.

Records can be kept electronically using the Diary record sheet provided.

If you use a computer to record information make sure the computer and files are password protected with a secure password. Documents will need to be printed off as required for the child’s file, but all records will need to be passed to the social worker once the child leaves your care. You should keep a record of the child's name the date they arrived and left and when the information was returned.

Currently confidential information should not be emailed.

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.

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.

5. Foster Carer Records

You will have information kept on you including your supervision meetings, any allegations and training and development records.

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