1. Purpose of a Chronology
A chronology should be a document, thoughtfully constructed, allowing professionals to have a clear understanding of the significant events in a child and their family's history. They should tell the child's story and provide a simple list of key events in each child's life, particularly in relation to social care intervention but also other significant changes for them.
They should also;
- Note the key decisions made in a child's life;
- Be used by practitioners as an analytical tool to help them to understand the impact, both immediate and cumulative, of events and changes on the child or young person's developmental progress;
- Assist in understanding key milestones in a case;
- Provide a way for a worker who is allocated a family, who return to an involvement with social care, to quickly see a pattern of events, issues and intervention over their family history; and
- Assist understanding of the case when transferring to a new worker.
All children with whom we continue to have involvement following an assessment should have an up to date and regularly updated chronology. This should be generated or written according to this guidance.
2. Content of a Chronology
Chronologies are intended to record events of significance and neutral, factual information. Some examples, not an exhaustive list, of what might be included in a chronology are given below. Remember it is just as important to record positive events in a child's life as it is difficulties.
A significant event is an incident that impacts upon a child's safety and welfare, circumstances or home environment. This will involve professional judgement based upon the child and family's individual circumstances.
It is important not to overwhelm the chronology with events of little significance; for example, including a routine home visit where no significant information was disclosed, may hamper the reader in seeing the family's overall story or history.
A recommended but not exhaustive list of elements to include in your chronology are:
- Key dates of birth, life events and moves;
- Birth of siblings;
- Significant health issues;
- House or placement moves;
- Changes in carer (parent, family, residential carer etc.) or adults in the household;
- School moves (and why);
- Exam results or other significant achievements;
- Becoming 18 years old;
- Facts pertinent to the case;
- Significant event leading to assessment / intervention;
- Domestic abuse incidents and actions;
- S.47 investigations and outcomes;
- Allegations and outcomes;
- Significant school issues, exclusions, training or employment events;
- Offending behaviours (parental, sibling, extended family, the child), any offences or court appearances.
- Key professional intervention;
- Previous social care intervention;
- Child protection plan(s) starting and ceasing;
- Periods of respite;
- Becoming or ceasing to be looked after, and why;
- Changes in legal status;
- Start and end of care proceedings.
3. Keeping the Chronology Up to Date
The chronology should be reviewed at least every month, and updated, assuming an event of significance has happened since the previous update, or sooner as required.
4. Quality Assurance of the Chronology
It is expected that Team Managers will ensure that all children allocated in their teams have an up to date and good quality chronology that meets the standards and expectations set out in this document. Team Managers will need to address through supervision any shortfall in quality or presence.It is further expected that case file auditors will check for the presence and quality of a Chronology as part of the monthly case file audit.