Case Records and Retention
Scope of this chapter
Please be aware that in Leeds City Council we use localised language of Children Looked After rather than Looked After Children.
Our Case Management System is Mosaic. For support on how to use Mosaic LCC employees can visit Insite. All electronic records are automatically signed and dated by the practitioner adding the records.
A written case record must be established and maintained for each child.
The record must include:
- The child's Care Plan, including any changes made to the Care 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:
- Details of arrangements for family time;
- 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 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.
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.
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).
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.
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:
Children's Services - Retention of Records.
|Looked After Children||Case records for looked after children.||Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010, s. 50.||Either: until the 75th anniversary of the child's birth,
if the child dies before age 18, for 15 years from the date of death.
|Fostering||Case records for approved foster carers (including relatives, friends or connected persons granted temporary approval under regulation 24 of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010), and any information relating to them contained in the register of foster carers.||The Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011, s. 32.||At least 10 years from the date on which their approval is terminated.|
|Case records for people who are not approved as a foster parent, or who withdraws their application prior to approval.||At least 3 years from the refusal or withdrawal.|
|Adoption||Adoption records where an Adoption Order is made.||Disclosure of Adoption Information (Post-Commencement Adoptions) Regulations 2005, Regulation 6.||At least 100 years from the date of the adoption order.|
|Adoption records where an Adoption Order is made before 30 December 2005.||Adoption Agencies Regulations 1983, regulation 14.||At least 75 years from the date of the adoption order.|
|Adoption records where an Adoption Order is not made.||The Adoption Agencies Regulations 2005, Regulation 40.
Adoption Statutory Guidance 2014.
|An adoption agency must keep the child's case record and the prospective adopter's case record for such period as it considers appropriate.
Where an adoption order is not made and the agency decides to close the child's adoption case record, it should transfer the information from this record to the looked after case record, in which case see Looked After Children.
If the child has never been looked after, the agency should destroy the records when no further action is necessary. An example of when this may be appropriate is if the possibility of adoption of a baby was discussed before the child's birth, but the baby remained with the birth parents.
|Children's Homes||Children's case records for children accommodated in children's homes.||Children's Homes (England) Regulations 2015, Regulation 36||Either:
until the 75th anniversary of the child's birth,
if the child dies before age 18, for 15 years from the date of death.
Children in Need/Serious Case Reviews
|No specific legislative retention period. Under the Limitation Act 1980, there is generally a statutory limitation period of 6 years in which civil claims may be instituted. In the case of children, this time period does not start to run until age 18. The suggested retention periods are in accordance with this limitation period.||Either:
until the 25th anniversary of the child's birth,
if the child dies before age 18, for 6 years from the date of death.
It is now very unlikely that the Chair and Panel will request access to documents relevant to the Inquiry’s Terms of Reference.
Consequently, organisations can plan for destruction or deletion of records that have been retained for the purposes of the Inquiry, which can resume at the end of the Inquiry’s Judicial Review period, currently set for 20th January 2023. However, please consider the following when drawing up disposal plans:
- Whether any of the records you have retained are likely to be of significant interest to victims and survivors and that your retention schedules meet their needs;
- The obligation to retain records for other inquiries remains.
Further information about the Inquiry’s moratorium on the destruction of records can be found on the Inquiry’s website.
Last Updated: February 9, 2023