Case Records and Retention
AMENDMENTIn August 2019, a Retention of Records Table was added in Section 2, Retention and Confidentiality of Records.
1. The Case Record
A written case record must be established and kept up to date for each child. In Northumberland ICS is the child's case record and must be kept up to date at all times. Case notes must be written up promptly, progress against plans must be entered as it happens and not only at times of review. Any changes of circumstances, such as change of address, make up of household, legal status, must be updated. Such updates are the responsibility of the allocated worker.
The record must include:
- The child's Plan, including any changes made to the Plan and any subsequent plans; to include the health plan, placement plan and personal education plan;
- Reports of Health Assessments;
- Any other document created or considered as part of any assessment of the child's needs, or of any review of their case; including education assessments;
- Any court order relating to the child;
- Details of any arrangements for the responsible authority's functions to be discharged by an independent fostering provider or provider of social work services.
These should be regarded as the minimum requirements for the case record. The Statutory Guidance recommends that records should also include:
- A chronology;
- Details of arrangements for contact;
- Copies of reports provided during court proceedings such as guardian's reports and specialist assessments;
- Additional information about educational progress;
- Copies of all the documents used to seek information, provide information or record views given to the authority in the course of planning and reviewing the child's case and review reports;
- Records of visits; and
- Other correspondence which relates to the child.
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.
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. Caution should always be used if information is being cut and pasted between children's records to ensure entries are amended appropriately.
When adoption is the plan for the child the responsible local authority may transfer a copy of the child's case record (or part of that record) to another adoption agency when it considers this to be in the interests of the child, and a written record must be kept of any such transfer. (s.4 The Adoption and Care Planning (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2018, amending s. 49 of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010).
2. Retention and Confidentiality of Records
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 Data Protection Act and UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) apply to both paper/manual and electronic records.
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).