Case Records and Retention


Disposal of Diaries and Notebooks Procedure

See also: Recording Policy and Guidelines.


Section 1, The Case Record was updated in December 2018 in line with the Adoption and Care Planning (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2018, which permits the transfer of a copy of the child's case record (or part of that record) to another adoption agency when the local authority considers this to be in the interests of the child.

1. The Case Record

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

This record should comprise:

  • The child's Care Plan (the Care Plan document). Any changes to the Care Plan must also be included, as well as the health plan, and placement plan;
  • Reports of Health Assessments and Personal Education Plan (PEP);
  • 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. In the interests of best practice records should also include:

  • 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 (PEP);
  • 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: Records of statutory visits should be completed by the end of the next working day. All other visits and contacts need to be recorded on the child's file by the end of the 5th working day following the contact;
  • 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 their own progress file to keep with them. Any papers temporarily placed in the record which are the property of the child should be clearly marked as such.

The records should be maintained in such a way that it is easy to trace the process of decision-making and in particular to identify the views of the child and parents.

Additionally, the social worker must:

  • Distinguish verifiable fact from opinion;
  • Not record in a way that is open to interpretation;
  • Be free from bias;
  • Record in a plain language;
  • Identify third party contributions and render anonymous other children in placement (e.g. use initials).

The child's record should be separate from other records, such as an Adoption Case Record, those relating to a foster carer or children's home records, 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.

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

Due to the ongoing national independent inquiry into historical child sexual abuse all files pertaining to children are retained 'UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE', therefore any case files MUST NOT BE DESTROYED. Any files whether current or historical need to be stored appropriately and securely.

The term 'file' or 'case record' does not just relate to a specific children's social care file such as a child in care or child subject of a Child in Need plan, it relates to other areas where Children's Services have been involved e.g. Education welfare, Leaving Care Service, Fostering, Adoption etc.

If anyone is unsure what to do with a file, do not destroy it but escalate to your manager or Head of Service or Business Services for support and direction or contact for further guidance.

Any files that are archived still require labelling with a destruction date in line with the department's document retention schedule when stored off site under the current contract, however, whilst the national inquiry is ongoing no files will be authorised for destruction even if they reach that date unless inquiry embargo on file destruction is lifted.

The destruction of files will be taken very seriously, and may lead to disciplinary action should it be found that appropriate measures have not been taken to securely retain such information.

The relevant retention period for a child's record will depend upon the nature of involvement of the local authority with the child and family.

For full details please refer to the Derbyshire County Council Children's Services Retention Schedule.

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 and UK General Data Protection Regulations (UK GDPR) apply to both paper/manual and electronic records.