A Guide to Chronologies


This chapter was introduced into the manual in July 2013; it provides guidance for practitioners on the information to include in chronologies.


This guidance was reviewed locally and updated in December 2014.

1. Introduction

A chronology is a record, in date order, of all the significant events and changes in a child or young person's life; it should reflect the child's journey. It is not a list of social worker activities.

All chronologies must be done in the chronology section on CASS and not on a word document. The chronology section on CASS has been developed to make it fit for purpose. CASS will automatically pull through certain key information and events; however this information may be limited. The further developments now enable you to add to any chronology event any additional or meaning full information, e.g. Child and Family Single Assessment commenced, you can now input further details of the outcome of this assessment.

Being able to fully record on CASS will ensure all children have an easy accessible chronology which can also be printed off and provided to Court without the need to complete a separate word chronology. It is important that any information in a chronology whether pulled through from CASS or inputted by another worker is checked fully and amended if not required or appropriate prior to providing the information to another agency/report/or Court. There is a tick facility which enables what will be shown via a printed copy.

A chronology should be started as soon as a case is open. If previous involvement has not been put into the chronology, this needs to be done by the allocated worker before a case can transfer or close.

2. What to Include in a Chronology

  • Only events significant to the child's journey should be included;
  • All referrals should be included within the chronology. This should include brief details of the referral and the outcome with a reason for the outcome;
  • A Section 47 investigation will need to go into a Chronology, stating the reason and the outcome;
  • All assessments which have been completed should go into the chronology with an outcome and the reason for the outcome;
  • Initial Child Protection Conferences should be included in the chronology. The chronology should be clear about whether a child was made subject to a Child Protection Plan and under which category;
  • Child Protection Reviews should be included if there was a significant outcome;
  • Core Group meetings / statutory child protection visits should be included if something significant happened;
  • Any significant decisions made, e.g. Gateway Panel or any other panel;
  • Court dates and outcomes;
  • Change of legal status;
  • Change of placement/or respite;
  • Child Looked After Reviews and statutory visits should be included with any significant change or event.

3. Other Significant Events Which Should be Included in the Chronology

Other significant events which should be included in the chronology include:

  • Children going missing and when they return (You may wish to group events together which are significant e.g between this date and another, there were x number of unsuccessful visits/missed contact sessions).

4. Other Points

Other points to note regarding the chronology include:

  • The chronology should not include all telephone conversations and should focus on the main events;
  • Professional judgement is required to decide on the relevance of an event for a particular child or family;
  • Information within each event should not be lengthy and keep to the key issues/information. (2 sentences will usually be sufficient).

5. How to Use the Chronology Section on CASS

Currently significant events such as referrals, Child and Family Single Assessment, Section 47 investigations and  other events are automatically added into the chronology section on CASS. The system takes the information from particular boxes on relevant forms. For example when a contact / referral is automatically added to the chronology, the chronology may include a large paragraph of information, or it may just include "see scan 12/01/13". This does not tell us the reason for the referral and the outcome with a reason for that outcome. See below examples of how a referral/additional information should appear in the chronology:

  • Referral from police, domestic violence notification. Verbal argument between mother and father. Child was not present, parents now separated, list of support agencies sent to mother therefore no further action from Children's Social Care;
  • 'Child and Family Single Assessment completed ongoing concerns with lack of boundaries, no improvement with home conditions. Referral made for family support. Child in need meeting to be held.'

Any events which happened before a child's date of birth can now be added to the chronology.

If there is a sibling and the event which you are adding is relevant to both children, this can be added to one of the children and copied over to the sibling(s) using the copy button within the chronology section.