Reporting and Recording

  • FosterWiki
  • Author:FosterWiki
  • Published:March 2023
  • Country: United Kingdom

Reporting and Recording

Fostering Reporting and recording

Introduction to reporting and recording

Reporting and recording are an integral part of our professional role as foster carers. The foster carer’s input is crucial for reviews, care plans and the care of children and young people physically, emotionally, educationally and developmentally.

It also demonstrates how we meet the National Minimum Standards in our daily practice, shows how fostering services have met their standards and statutory regulations and impacts outcomes for children.

Your fostering provider is obliged under the National Minimum Standards (NMS) to have a policy on recording, reporting, the content and safe storing in compliance with GDPR.

What the National Minimum Fostering Standards say

about reporting and recording:

Key reasons for reporting and recording

  • The information is essential in informing care plans, reviews and assessments.
  • Records can offer to give children and young people an opportunity to understand why decisions were made about them and to demonstrate the foster carer’s role in their lives, it can impact their identity and sense of self.
  • They can demonstrate a foster carer is meeting the National Minimum Standards.
  • The recordings can assist in information sharing and accessing appropriate services.
  • They can be an opportunity to reflect on practice, to also reflect on the progress of the child emotionally, physically, educationally and socially.
  • They support and demonstrate your continued professional development as a foster carer.
  • They are essential in the case of an allegation being made against you as a foster carer.
  • Court proceedings

How to record

Each fostering service has its own method of foster carers reporting and recording, this can vary from physical files to online recording systems such as CHARMS, or in-house online platforms.

It is an important part of the professional side of our fostering to familiarise ourselves with these systems and keep reporting and recording up to date.

Here’s what the National Minimum Standards say:

26.5) Entries in records, decisions and reasons for them are legible, clearly expressed, non-stigmatising, distinguish between fact, opinion and third-party information and are signed and dated.

26.6) Information about the child is recorded clearly and in a way which will be helpful to the child when they access their files now or in the future. Children are actively encouraged to read their files, other than necessarily confidential or third-party information, and to correct errors and add personal statements.

As you can see from the above National Minimum standards there is clear guidance to how records should be kept.

  • Keep your recording as factual as possible, keep it brief and concise.
  • If you do write anything opinion based be very clear to label it as such.
  • Ensure everything is dated.
  • Try to keep the records free of jargon and use appropriate language, children may access their records at a later date so make sure anything you write is in a way that you would be
    happy for a child or young person to read.

What to record

Your fostering services will provide you with a policy on reporting and recording, but those policies will all be underpinned by the National Minimum Standards, statutory regulation, safeguarding, child protection and GDP.

Again your fostering service will also tell you how they record, this may be in paper files (which they will supply to you) or online via a recording platform such as CHARMS.

Recordings should include details of:

  • Details of your child in terms of achievements and improvement.
  • Feedback or significant comments from children, as they said it.
  • All medical appointments, medication, illnesses, injuries, accidents, body maps and record self-harming.
  • How things are going at school.
  • Any decisions you made as part of delegated authority.
  • Significant behavioural changes, both positive and negative.
  • Contact with child’s social worker, other professionals, services and agencies.
  • Record of family time/contact with birth family, any visits that failed to happen, how your child or young person responded to contact.
  • How the child is feeling emotionally, how their friendships are.
  • Details of visits by the child’s social worker, any missed meetings and any agreed actions.
  • Any changes in the fostering household that may impact the child.
  • How things are going in the family and with other placements.
  • Any sleepovers, days out or time spent with friends.
  • Any disclosures made by the child or young person.
  • Any missing episodes and contact with police.
  • Details of support requested from the agency/local authority by the foster carer, dated.

What else do you keep in the child’s file

The children’s files are the place to keep all the paperwork, written records and reports pertaining to them.

  • Written contributions to children’s reviews, copies of the care reviews and placement plans.
  • School/education records.
  • Records of contact/family time, dates & times.
  • Records of medication given.
  • Reports of any accidents.
  • Reports of any incidents.
  • Medical card.
  • Missing from home.

Please see our FosterWiki page on Missing Children and Young People.

This will guide you through the process of completing police MISPER forms and reporting and recording.

The importance of language when reporting and recording

It is so important to remember that children and young people will have access to their files later on in life, so your input must be always mindful of that.

This is an example from a foster carer on the use of language:

“Our child regularly comes back from contact/family time very angry and tearful, he really misbehaves, breaks things, refuses to eat and swears at us, sometimes he may reject us and say hurtful things. We know why he does this and we work in a trauma-informed way understanding what underlays the behaviour.

So, when we are writing up our records, rather than focusing on the behaviours themselves we record things like ‘When he came back from his family time he was visibly upset, angry and sad. We understood that his behaviour was just an expression of how he was feeling as he was unable to verbalise it.

We were calm and quiet and didn’t react and soon he too calmed down, then he was just sad. We then took him out for a nice treat and an activity, we realise this doesn’t heal things for him but it does serve as a distraction, and sometimes when he is doing other things he will open up a bit more about how he’s feeling rather than us tackling it head on.’ Our recordings and feedback then go to the child’s social worker, and we work together to see if there is any extra support we can put in for him, and they can reflect on contact arrangements to see what’s best for him.”

TOP TIPS from FosterWiki experts on reporting and recording

Take time to familiarise yourself with all your provider’s reporting and recording systems.
Each fostering provider will have its own systems, policies, procedures and training regarding reporting and recording. These will be underpinned by the Fostering Services Regulations, National Minimum Fostering Standards and other statutory regulations.

If you don’t understand them or are having any difficulties with them ask your provider for additional training or approach the online companies’ support lines.

Record all incidents and issues
If you have an issue or incident that concerns you, however small, not just with a child but also with birth parents, social workers, school or any others, record it at the time, including date,
time and concise description. Sometimes there is the temptation to think that the issue will ‘blow over’ however it’s important that you still record them.

This is to protect you as much as the child, to inform your provider and help with care plans.

Make sure you have everything in writing.
Written, timed and dated recordings are imperative. This way you don’t have to verbally explain incidents at a later date, it’s all in writing from the time of the incidents, it also provides clear information for the child’s records and development.

Be astute, brief and clear in your emails or with your recording, be factual and concise.

Emails are often one of the best forms of ‘recording’ as they are dated, even timed and are irrefutable evidence when you need it as long as you can access them again. This may not be
the preferred way of your social workers or providers as they get a lot of emails, however, the feedback FosterWiki received is that recording and having things in writing that are timed and dated is important to foster carers.

Foster carer’s diaries and own records
If you have online recording systems and encrypted emails make sure that you, as a foster carer, can access them again. This may become important in an allegation when you need access to evidence.

This is not always possible and often you have to ask hour social workers or team manager for access to your recordings, reports and reviews. FosterWiki has been advised that this does not always happen so often foster carers keep their own records.

FosterWiki can not advise on foster carers keeping diaries but we can give you feedback from other foster carers and many reports they keep their own diaries to back up any incidents, times, dates, and issues as they do not feel secure in the fact that their online recordings or encrypted emails will be handed over in times such as allegations.

They keep them safe and have adequate knowledge following their providers’ GDPR protocol, for which they have often had extensive training and written policies. FosterWiki is aware that there is ongoing work surrounding these issues at the highest level and the importance of foster carers having access to their own recordings, reviews and reports.

Do not be opinion based in what you write, just concise facts and accurate descriptions. Bear in mind that any records we make as carers about the children in our care can be requested by the courts in court proceedings, so it is vital that records must be factual and not the carer’s opinion, if you do offer opinion make it clear.

Be mindful of language in children’s records
When recording things about children and young people be mindful of the language and tone used to describe children, behaviour, and situations. Young people will have access to their records later in life and reading these records can be re-traumatising.

GDPR/Data Protection
Be aware and up to date with your provider’s GDPR policy, which you should be in possession of and engage in any training they have on the subject. Never put anything in the post and try to use the providers’ encrypted email when possible.
Check out our page on Data Protection here

Confidentiality is of paramount importance. Make sure you are well-versed in the providers’ confidentiality policies.

Always double-check when sharing reports, recordings or facts about a child or young person in your care, even if you have been asked to do so by a social worker, or it’s a doctor/hospital/school/CHAMS etc.

Do not go ahead with a verbal request, always get it in writing.

Foster Carer Foster Carer Report National Minimum Standards NMS Recording Reporting Reporting and Recording
FosterWiki Survey 2024