RELEVANT CHAPTERSIssuing of Privacy (Formally Fair Processing) Notices in Children's Specialist Services Procedure
'Every child's case file should include a properly maintained Chronology'
The absence of a clear and detailed Chronology on the file (there are up to 7 files for each of the children) has made gaining a relatively quick overview of the case difficult……. A clear Chronology that identified at least when the children's names were subject to a Child Protection Plan and in whose care they were and when Section 47 investigations had been opened and closed, including dates of notifications from the Police that their enquiries had been concluded would have prevented inaccurate information being provided. Reading and understanding the history from the files has been a time consuming challenge in undertaking this Review. It is unclear whether staff routinely made time to read and understand the file. On the files there are some elements of a Chronology, but this was not sufficient to provide an easily accessible understanding of the case. The Department should make sure that all staff members record information in accordance with the Case Recording Procedure and that full and relevant key information is provided in the Case Chronology on the ICS system……… In the light of this, there is a need for a restatement of the importance of having clear and effective case chronologies (Case Chronologies - June 2003) and that clearer guidance is provided about what is required in a Chronology.
(Child ABCD Serious Case Review - Children's Specialist Services Individual Management Review).
A Chronology lists, in date order, all the significant events and changes in a child or young person's life. It is an analytical tool to help to understand the impact on the child, both immediate and cumulative, of these events. It is recorded as a series of brief 'headlines' to provide an immediate, visual overview. All the children that we provide a service to must have a Chronology. The Chronology should begin from the point at which Children's Specialist Services becomes involved with the family. All of our involvements with children and families must be informed by our previous knowledge of the children and family.
"Good social work practice requires making decisions in the child's best interest, maintaining chronological records, and information sharing across agencies" Children's Commissioner Statement 1st February 2011.
A Chronology is not: a detailed account, a record of observations made in ICS, a substitute for a full analysis, a calendar or a diary.
A Chronology makes key information easily accessible. It enables the issues for the child or young person to be identified and the likely impact to be evaluated. In particular chronologies are important to:
A Chronology must be available and used to aid decision-making in the following circumstances:
|Note: Safeguarding and Looked After Children Inspection (March 2011): However, in some cases (seen by the inspectors) of chronic neglect, insufficient regard had been taken of historical factors leading to a delay before appropriate planning and intervention.|
In order to ensure that this information is available Assessment Teams must do an archive check on all cases that have been previously known to the department.
The Social Worker will then need to read the case files and summarise the case history on ICS. One case note summary for each year, for example, - case note heading: "Summary of involvement 1999" This should be ticked as a significant event. Be brief but capture significant information.
Assessment Practice Managers will need to confirm that historical information has been summarised on ICS on the transfer checklist. Care Management Practice Managers will need to confirm this.
Often files are very large and run to several volumes. Reading them, where there is not already a Chronology in place, is time consuming. However, this is always time well spent. Not to read them is not an option. The historical information could and should have a significant influence on any decisions made by Children's Specialist Services in relation to the child/ children. Not to read and take account of historical information could lead to unsafe decision making.
Any significant event or change which has an impact on the child or young person. All relevant information should be included whether regarded as positive or negative for the child or young person. Professional judgment must always be used when deciding what information to add. The following should be included, but the list is not exhaustive:
A Chronology should be started at the point when Children's Specialist Services first became involved with a child and family, and must cover all involvement, from the first point of contact, referral and assessment, taking account of the whole history including periods of case closure, new contacts and referrals etc.
If there is no existing Chronology when a case is re-opened or transferred, one must be created as a priority. While making a Chronology on an open case can be time consuming, it is a valuable way to understand the child's history and the current issues.
Every time a case note or visit is recorded in ICS that needs to appear in the Chronology, the box 'is this a significant event' should be ticked. This will enable a Chronology to be easily produced.
From a child's ICS file, select History. You will find this on the left side navigation pane. Select Configure View. Here you can select the type of events you want to appear in the Chronology, you can select as many as you want. Always select case notes with significant events. Select the dates you wish to specify. Then select Return to Information View. This will provide you with an electronic Chronology and links to events recorded within ICS. You are able to archive the chronology to save on the system or export a copy of the Chronology for printing,
In order to get a print view of the Chronology: From the Browse Chronology Screen click the print icon, choose Chronology exemplar and tick case notes with significant event box at the top of the screen. Enter "today's" date in the box - "Date Chronology started by" then press save. You can choose from date and to date if required. In the "Heading Report Section" deselect all the radio buttons and then go through and select those you wish to include. Then press run report. This will give you a print view. It will not normally be necessary to actually print the Chronology as a word template should be used for Court Chronologies. However this view does pull through all the information to one place for easy reference.
It is essential to keep a Chronology maintained by entering relevant information as it occurs to prevent it becoming an unmanageable task and throughout the professional involvement. An out of date Chronology cannot provide full information for further analysis and planning or for the child in the future. It is therefore essential to maintain a Chronology for each child's case as long as it remains open to Children's Specialist Services.
Entries on a Chronology should:
There must be a separate and individual Chronology for each sibling who receives a service from Children's Specialist Services.
The Allocated Case Worker has the responsibility for maintaining the Chronology. Other staff involved with the family such as Family Support Practitioners should enter information as required in conjunction with the Allocated Case Worker. Team Support staff may add information on behalf of the workers involved. Managers are responsible for monitoring the Chronology through supervision to ensure it continues to be up to date and fit for purpose.