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EalingChildren's Services Procedures Manual

Chronology Practice Guidance


  1. Who is this Guidance Aimed at?
  2. Which Cases Should have a Chronology?
  3. Why are Chronologies Needed?
  4. When does a Chronology Need to be Shared?
  5. Quality Assurance
  6. Key Information to be Included

1. Who is this Guidance Aimed at?

  • All social work teams including SAFE and ECIRS.

2. Which Cases Should have a Chronology?

  • All cases open to Children's Services;
  • Where cases are allocated to more than one team responsibility will lie with the SW with primary statutory responsibility;
  • Cases being transferred or closed must have an up to date chronology.

3. Why are Chronologies Needed?

  • The purpose is to provide social workers and managers with a chronological list of key, significant events in a child's life;
  • The chronology enables those undertaking assessments or making key decisions to quickly understand events or patterns of behaviour and to analyse the implications for a child or their family;
  • Chronologies Illustrate patterns of behaviour or interactions that support assessments by highlighting risk. Viewed in isolation events or behaviours can't be recognised as a potential warning signs;
  • Chronologies can assist legal professionals and the Courts in decision making;
  • Chronologies can prevent the "re-start the clock" syndrome that builds in delay for children by repeating interventions that have already been unsuccessful or have not produced improved outcomes.

4. When does a Chronology Need to be Shared?

  • An up to date chronology needs to be presented for all Pre Birth/Initial Child Protection Conferences.┬áCare needs to be taken as to how widely it is shared as it could increase the risk to an individual within the family. Caution may be needed when children are present at conferences.┬áThe extent of distribution will be decided between the Social Worker, Deputy/Team Manager and Child Protection Adviser. An updated chronology should be available for subsequent Review Child Protection Conferences;
  • All panels where decisions are made now require an up to date chronology to support panel members in making sound decisions;
  • All looked after children's reviews.

5. Quality Assurance

  • The quality of chronologies and whether they are up to date will be part of any audit process and should be reviewed within supervision;
  • Absence of a good quality chronology at key decision meetings or panels will be escalated to the Team Manager.

6. Key Information to be Included

This list is not exhaustive and is intended as a guide:

  • Date and time and event, presented in chronological order usually beginning with the birth of parents and then the children;
  • All significant aspects of Child/YP's life;
  • Relevant aspects of parents' life including previous periods of being a LAC or subject to CP history, health;
  • Dates of entering/leaving UK;
  • Dates of birth and places of birth of parents;
  • Referral details and dates;
  • Date of any assessment and recommendation but not the detail;
  • Any child protection concerns;
  • Any missing periods from care/home/school and return dates;
  • Private fostering episodes;
  • Significant visits where concerns are highlighted;
  • Missed appointments or appointments that parent/carer cuts short or changes from home to office;
  • Attempted unsuccessful contact;
  • Significant telephone calls;
  • Police information and interventions; Merlins received or call outs to home;
  • Attendance at hospital, Accident and Emergency, Urgent Care Centre (UCC);
  • Information provided by other professionals e.g. teachers, health visitors etc;
  • Education, date of entry to nursery, school and secondary school;
  • Agreed actions and decisions by professionals;
  • Placement changes, moves, disruptions;
  • Management decisions;
  • Child Protection (CP) procedures:
    • S47 Enquiries;
    • CP medicals; date and outcome;
    • Strategy Meetings;
    • Child Protection Conferences and Reviews;
    • Core Groups.
  • Any MAPPA or MARAC meetings; date and key decisions or actions;
  • Dates in and out of care including placement changes;
  • Allocations of new workers;
  • Take up or refusal of a service;
  • Positive events that indicate increased parenting capacity or partnership;
  • Separation/Divorce;
  • Significant life events e.g. people moving in and out of home etc;
  • Health checks; developmental checks, immunisations;
  • Legal planning meetings;
  • Panel where decisions are made; date and decision only;
  • Court orders/legal proceedings and decisions/changes in legal status;
  • Allegations against any member of the family;
  • Dates of birth of new siblings;
  • Dates of deaths/still births/miscarriages;
  • Where more information can be found e.g. reference to assessments, documents etc.
  • Referrals to other agencies;
  • Case transfers; including 'step up to Localities or down to SAFE';
  • Case closures; chronologies must be up to date at point of closure.