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2.2 Case Records and Retention


  1. The Case Record
  2. Retention and Confidentiality of Records

1. The Case Record

A written case record must be established and maintained for each child.

The record must comprise:

  • The child's Care Plan, including any changes made to the Care Plan and any subsequent plans (e.g. 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 his/her case;
  • 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;
  • 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.

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. 

Individual case records must be made for all Children in Care. Siblings records should not be amalgamated, although a degree of cross-reference and duplicate entry will be necessary, for example, to confirm when siblings are seen together.

In addition to the formal case record, the child’s carer is required to ensure that a photo album and ‘treasure box’ is maintained for the child  whereby any materials that are considered to be significant or of potential sentimental value to the child are safely stored and accessible to the child. This may include written material, photographs, school certificates, mementos or anything else that the child reasonably asks to be kept. Care must be taken to ensure that such materials are safely transferred between placements should the child need to move.

2. Retention and Confidentiality of Records

The case record must be kept until the 75th anniversary of the child's date of birth, or 15 years from the date of death in the case of a child who dies before reaching the age of 18.

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.

Click here to View Children’s Services - Retention of Records.

Please Note: While the National Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is on-going, no children's social care records should be destroyed.

See the Independent Inquiry Website for full details.