chronology lists in date order all the major changes and
events in a child or young person's life. In a recent High
Court judgement Justice Bracewell included a chronology
among the records the court would expect to find in a social
Using a Chronology
A chronology can be a useful way of gaining an overview of
events in a child or a young person's life.
The chronology should 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.
The type of changes and events that should be included
in a chronology would include changes in the family composition,
address, educational establishment, in the child or young
person's legal status and any injuries, periods of hospitalisation
or other significant medical treatment.
from the Integrated Children's System (Microsoft Word
The Chronology records all significant
events and changes in the life of a child or young person.
The Chronology is an analytical tool
designed to help social workers understand the impact,
both immediate and cumulative, of events and changes
on the child/ young person. In the Integrated Children's
System, the Chronology will replace
the Essential Information Record Part Two from the Looking
After Children system.
This exemplar has been formatted to enable information
about individual children and young people to be aggregated
for strategic planning purposes and for completion of
statistical returns required by the Department of Health,
and other government departments.
Information about children and young people is recorded
under the following headings:
previous social services activity;
the child’s health history;
education, training and employment
changes in the child(s) or young person’s
placement history of a looked after
history of any offences; and
significant events and changes in
the circumstances of the child and family.
Completing the Chronology
A Chronology should be started as
part of the process of completing a Core Assessment,
and be updated during the period of social services
involvement with the child or young person. In some
cases, social workers may wish to start a Chronology
earlier and will need to use their professional judgement
as to when this would be helpful. For example, during
an initial assessment it may become clear that a child
or young person has experienced considerable change
either of main carer, in family composition or address.
A Chronology can help structure information
to inform analysis and decision making.
Although a Chronology should draw
on various sources of information such as previous social
work files and information from other agencies, the
child or young person and his or her family should be
involved in the process of completing the Chronology.
The involvement of family members provides an opportunity
to check the accuracy of information, and it can assist
the social worker in obtaining family members’
perspectives on particular events and to develop an
understanding of their impact on individuals in the
family. Consent should be obtained from family members
before contacting other agencies for information.
The primary function of a Chronology is
to record factual information. It is also used to record
the social worker’s assessment of the impact of
events on the child or young person. For some children
the impact of events will be evident at the time of
the event or change, but for others the impact may not
be known and should be recorded later when it becomes
The Chronology starts with the
child or young person’s essential details,
the date the chronology was started and the date
it was last shared with key family members. A copy
of the Chronology should be given
to the chair of a child or young person’s
review. The review chair should sign and date the
chronology to indicate that it has been presented
to the review and is up to date.
The Chronology should include
a genogram of the child or young person’s
family. A genogram is a diagrammatic representation
of a child or young person’s family tree and
relationships within his or her family.
The dates at the top of the table
identify when the case was referred and, where appropriate,
closed. The dates in the table record the date services
| Example: Christine Cumming,
age 2, was referred to social services on the 7th
of July 2002 by her Health Visitor who was concerned
about possible neglect. An initial assessment was
carried out which showed Christine was not being
neglected, but that she and her mother, who had
recently moved into the area, were isolated. Christine
and her mother were supported to attend a local
mother and toddler group, after which the case was
closed on the 2nd of August 2002.
The following was recorded in the Record of Social
Services Activity section of Christine’s
Date of referral to social services:
07. 07. 2002
Date Closed: 02 08. 2002
Reason for involvement: Family Support
||Type of Service
||Length of time & frequency
08 07 2002
12 07 2002
||No indications of neglect.
Assessment completed. Identified that Christine
and her mother isolated since moving to the area.
15 07 2002
02 08 2002
|Transport for Christine and her mother
to attend South Dale mother and toddler group
||Five days twice a day
||Ms Cumming and Christine attended
02 08 2002
02 08 2002
|Meeting with Ms Cumming and Karen
Small, South Dale.
||Christine settled well. Ms Cumming
feels confident about making her way to group. No
longer needs transport. Will contact SSD if any
problems. Case closed.
There is a sub-section within Social Services Activity,
Record of Social Services Activity: Involvement in
Child Protection, which records details of when the
child or young person’s name has been placed
on the child protection register.
This section systematically records the child or
young person’s health history. Specific details
of immunisations, ongoing health conditions and impairments
are recorded alongside particulars of significant
health events, such as childhood illnesses, contact
with accident and emergency and periods of hospitalisation.
This section starts with a record of a child or young
person’s educational achievements, including
qualifications. This is followed by particulars of
significant educational events in each school or educational
establishment the child or young person has attended.
These include non-academic achievements, for example
membership of the school netball team; periods of
exclusion; and changes of school/educational establishment.
Details of changes in a child or young person’s
legal status are recorded in this section of the chronology.
This includes orders made under s8 of the Children
Act 1989, such as Residence Orders, and a child or
young person’s legal status whilst looked after.
For example, whether they are subject of a Care Order
Changes in the legal status of children and young
people are closely linked to changes of placement.
This section of the chronology provides an overview
of all the changes in placement experienced by a child
or young person during the period(s) they are looked
after. To enable the information recorded on individual
children to be aggregated and used for planning and
statistical returns to the Department of Health codes
are used to record some of the information in this
section. The codes used are recorded in the margin
of the Chronology.
|Example: The police contacted
Social Services to assist them with Darren Hunt,
aged 13. Darren and two friends had been picked
up by the police whilst truanting from school. The
parents of the other boys had collected them from
the police station, but Darren’s parents had
refused to attend. Mr and Mrs Hunt told the social
worker who called out to speak with them that they
had had enough of Darren and his behaviour and would
not have him back home under any circumstances.
As no family or friends were available it was agreed
that Darren would be accommodated. A foster placement
was not available and Darren was placed in a local
children’s home over the weekend. Darren and
his family had no contact over the weekend and his
parents continued to refuse to have him home. A
local foster placement was identified and after
an introductory visit Darren moved in two days later.
Over the next three weeks contact was re-established
between Darren and his parents and it was agreed
that he would return home with a package of family
The Record of Changes to Child/young person’s
Legal Status for Darren was as follows:
||Reason for change in legal status
07 06 2002
27 06 2002
|Children Act 1989
||Breakdown in relationship between Darren and his
Darren’s parents willing to have him home.
The Placement History recorded the following:
||Type of care event
|Type of Placement
||Name and address
||Impact on child/young person
07 06 2002
|Start of looked after period
|Darren’s parents refused to have him home.
|Children’s home in authority
||Darren very upset and angry at parent’s
refusal to have him home.
11 06 2002
|Change of placement
|Move to foster placement.
|Foster placement in authority
|Mr and Mrs Lund
||Darren pleased at move to foster carers.
27 06 2002
|Change of placement
||Darren very pleased and relieved to be returning
Details of offences for which the child or young
person has received a caution or court sentence are
Significant Events and Changes in
the Child or Young Person’s Birth Family
This records significant events and changes within
the child or young person’s birth family. For
some children and young people this section of the
Chronology may commence before their
birth; for example where an older sibling died before
Links to other records in the
Integrated Children’s System
The Chronology has been designed to
facilitate the updating of information electronically
within a computerised information system. However, at
the point of referral or re-referral it may be necessary
to commence or update the Chronology
using information from the family and other sources,
such as education. The practitioner should always consider
and record the impact of events on the child or young
Chronology and the Review Record
A child or young person’s Chronology
should be kept up to date. The Review Record has been
designed to be the primary source of information to
update the Chronology, and within
a computerised system this can take place electronically.
Key records index