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3.9.7 Foster Carers Recording Policy


  1. Introduction
  2. Types of Information Held by Foster Carers
  3. Retaining/Returning the Information
  4. Computer Use
  5. Foster Carers' Case Recording
  6. Medical Records
  7. Foster Carers' Understanding of this Policy

1. Introduction

Within their role, foster carers have access to a wide range of information and records.

This policy and guidance aims to:

  • Identify the types of information and records that foster carers hold;
  • Recognise to whom the records belong;
  • Explain how the records should be stored;
  • Set out what should be recorded and how it should be recorded.

It must be stressed that foster carers have to keep separate records for individual children. It is not sufficient to keep collective records when fostering 2 or more children.

Once a child's placement has ended, foster carers must ensure that any information relating to that child is returned to their supervising social worker.

2. Types of Information Held by Foster Carers

The information that foster carers may have can be broadly categorised into three main areas

  • Information about fostering in general;
  • Information about themselves;
  • Information about children placed in their care.

The table below lists the sorts of records and information that a foster carer may have:-

General Fostering Information Records about themselves Child based records
  • Recruitment information;
  • Preparation material;
  • Sample foster care forms;
  • Sample ICS forms;

    (NB All blank forms should be ‘watermarked’ sample copy.)

  • Foster Carer Handbook;
  • Fostering network information;
  • Training material;
  • Newsletter.
  • DBS return;
  • Registration letter;
  • Foster Care Agreement;
  • Supervision notes;
  • Foster Carer Review and outcome letter;
  • Training invitations + arrangements;
  • Training log;
  • Correspondence;
  • Health and Safety check;
  • Pet Assessment.
  • Placement Plan;
  • Care Plan;
  • PEP;
  • Health Action Plan;
  • Child's Health Record (red book);
  • Medication Record*;
  • Child Protection Conference minutes, as appropriate;
  • Looked After Review report and minutes;
  • Needs Meeting minutes (where appropriate);
  • Assessment and Progress Record;
  • Pathway Plan, as appropriate;
  • Life Story Book;
  • Reports for other professionals e.g. home/school diary, behaviour chart;
  • Contact records;
  • Missing from Home Notifications;
  • Appointments diary;
  • Agreed baby-sitters for the child;
  • Daily log;
  • Child's passport (where possible);
  • All correspondence relating to specific children.

Additionally foster carers may have kept photographs, early pictures and other memorabilia belonging to the child currently in the placement, which should be used/kept for Life Story Book.

For the duration of their registration, foster carers will keep the following information:

  • The general fostering information which is not confidential but foster carers need to have access to the information to assist with the task of fostering.

For the duration of each placement, foster carers will keep the following information:

  • The information about any child placed with them and their families is to be kept confidential and should be stored in a lockable filing box. The supervising social worker will check the contents of the box as part of their supervisory role - see Support and Supervision of Foster Carers Procedure

3. Retaining/Returning the Information

On ceasing to be a foster carer the following arrangements apply:

  • Any information that falls into the category of general fostering may be kept. However, care should be taken not to share information about other foster carers that may be contained in newsletters (e.g. addresses of carers involved in the Hillingdon Foster Care Association);
  • Foster carers may keep any information that they have been given about themselves, including copies of records of their own supervision and reviews;
  • Any child based information held by foster carers, whether it has been provided for them or if they have made the record, must be returned to their supervising social worker once the placement has ended or if the foster carers cease to foster. The only exceptions are if the foster carers secure the child’s placement with a Residence Order, Child Arrangements Order, Special Guardianship Order or Adoption Order).

Foster carer files are kept for a minimum of 10 years after they cease to be foster carers. Information kept on Looked After children’s files is kept for 75 years after their 18th birthday.

4. Computer Use

Please refer to the London Borough of Hillingdon's ICT Useage Policy.

5. Foster Carers' Case Recording

Increasingly foster carers are being asked to keep records about children placed with them, in much the same way that records are kept in residential care services. Foster carers may be asked to provide:

  • Written contribution to children’s Looked After Reviews;
  • Written contribution to Child Protection Conferences;
  • Daily records;
  • Medication records;
  • Contact records.

The reasons these records are required are:

  • To accurately recall behaviour or incidents and provide a balanced picture of events;
  • To assist in looking at the progress of a placement over time and developing a picture of the child’s pattern of behaviour;
  • To inform decision-making at reviews, planning meetings and conferences;
  • To help the foster carer to review and develop practice;
  • To provide information needed for court proceedings;
  • To support an application for additional help e.g. therapy;
  • To reduce the risk to foster carers and their families while the child is placed, and, in some cases, after the child has moved on.

Additionally the foster carer may keep a diary for appointments.

All carers will receive a loose leaf folder with dividers, to record information about children. The dividers are so that separate recordings are made about individual children. 

At the Placement Planning Meeting, there should be a decision as to:

  • what recording is required;
  • who the information shall be shared with;
  • by what means the information will be shared;
  • how frequently the information will be distributed.

In terms of writing records, foster carers should follow some basic guidelines:

  • The language should be simple and jargon free;
  • The record should not be over long, enough information to be able to recall the event. A daily record would be ideal but weekly summaries are better than no records;
  • Whilst the records are in part designed to record events that may affect the well-being of the foster carer’s family, they should also be used to provide a picture of family life for the child to help them recall interesting, amusing and even sad family events;
  • Record facts;
  • If opinion is recorded then say this is your view and why you think it;
  • The record should be made contemporaneously, signed and dated. If any information is changed or added later this should be clear from the record;
  • Remember that the record may be shared with the child and/or birth family. They should be aware that you are keeping records about them. It may be possible for them to contribute to the record or at least read it regularly. Where there is disagreement it is helpful to make a record of it.

The sorts of things that should be recorded are:

  • Dates and brief details of meetings/visits by social workers and other professionals;
  • Dates of reviews or any other meeting concerning the child, list the participants and the key decisions;
  • Dates of any school or education meetings, list the participants and key decisions. Keep a record of achievements, schools attended;
  • Dates of any health appointments, list the participants and key decisions. Keep a record of any treatment, immunisations and illnesses;
  • Details of any contact visits or telephone calls, letters etc. Name the person who has contacted the child. Note any reaction the child may have to the contact. Keep a record of where the child’s family is living;
  • Details when the child is away from home, visiting family or friends, or if they are missing;
  • Details of times, when alternative care is given – babysitting arrangements - please note: your supervising social worker requires all details of any proposed baby-sitters prior to the baby-sitter looking after a child);
  • Details of any specific incidents or complaints or disagreements;
  • Details of any behaviour or comments from the child that give rise to concern. Make a note of your actions. This may help to identify what triggers such behaviour and what stops it;
  • Details of any accidents or injuries. Describe what, when, where and how the accident happened and what follow up action was taken. Record when the incident was reported to which social worker;
  • Detail any theft or wilful damage caused by the foster child. This will be required for any claims;
  • Detail any involvement with the police, noting the date, which officer was involved and the reason for the involvement;
  • Detail any request made to the agency for support or resources and any difficulties reported, note the date of the request, the response and when it was received.

6. Medical Records

*Foster carers will follow the procedures set out in Administration of Medication to Looked After Children Procedure

7. Foster Carers’ Understanding of this Policy

7.1 Assessment

During the preparation and assessment of foster carers and within each supervision session, it is important that they understand the need for record keeping and the implications for data protection, particularly with regard to understanding that the record belongs to the Fostering Team.

It must be stressed to foster carers that they need to keep separate records for individual children. It is not sufficient to keep a collective diary when fostering 2 or more children. Once a child's placement has ended, foster carers must ensure that any information relating to that child is returned to their supervising social worker.

Additionally foster carers should be familiarised with the record formats that may be used. This is both for the records that they receive and which they complete.

Foster carers should be aware of what needs to be recorded, how and with whom it will be shared - see Section 5, Foster Carers' Case Recording.

Foster carers should be willing and able to make the required records. This may be taped if literacy is an issue for carers or if disability precludes writing the records.

This aspect of the fostering task will be discussed at their Reviews - see Review and Termination of Approval of Foster Carers Procedure.

7.2 Placements of Children Looked After

Within 5 working days of any placement there must be a Placement Planning Meeting. This meeting is the forum to discuss the child’s care arrangements but should also include an agreement about what records the foster carer should make, with whom they will be shared, how frequently and by what method.

The foster carer should expect to receive a copy of the following documents:

  • Assessment
  • Care Plan;
  • Placement Plan;
  • PEP;
  • Health Action Plan;
  • Health record (red book) if relevant;
  • Any other relevant information.

7.3 End of Placement/Cessation of Fostering

At the end of any placement, the supervising social worker is responsible for retrieving any care documentation relating to that child. *The supervising social worker should check the lockable box in which this documentation is stored to ensure that all the information is retrieved. See Administration of Medication to Looked After Children Procedure.

The social worker should ask the foster carer to sign a list all the documentation returned.

The supervising social worker should place the information retrieved from the foster carer on the child, on the child’s file. Duplicate information should be destroyed.

The foster carer should know how to ask to see the documentation if they require to do so, in the future.