A written case record must be established and maintained for each child.
The record must include:
These should be regarded as the minimum requirements for the case record. The Statutory Guidance recommends that records should also include:
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.
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:
Important Note: The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse requires all institutions to retain their records relating to the care of children for the duration of the Inquiry under Section 21 of the Inquiries Act 2005. There is therefore an obligation to preserve records for the Inquiry for as long as is necessary.
(See letter to Chief Executives of Local Authorities)