An effective chronology can be used by practitioners as a tool when working with children and families, allowing an understanding to develop of the impact of events in the life of the child. Analysis of a chronology can provide insight into both the immediate and long-term effects of these individual events on a child’s emotional and physical development.
An example of when a chronology can be a powerful tool is in cases where there is suspicion of neglect. With neglect there is not necessarily an identifiable point when the case moves to child protection, and often incidents are seen in isolation of each other. A chronology allows for patterns to be seen and for change or lack thereof to be recorded.
- Be accurate – contain fact, not opinion
- Contain sufficient details but not replicate the case recording (i.e. pertinent information only)
- Be flexible – allow for unplanned events to form part of the recording
- Be reviewed regularly – chronologies should be up to date to allow analysis
- Note action that was taken in response to any particular event (i.e. x happened and so we did y). It is also important to note if no action was taken.
Key information in chronologies should include:
- Key dates – e.g. dates of birth of important family members, deaths of important people in the child’s life.
- Key professional interventions – e.g. date of initial and historical referrals to Children’s Services, outcome of s47 enquiries, date of child protection plans being made.
- Significant events – e.g. child coming to school with an injury, neighbours reporting child out in early hours of the morning, significant illnesses, missing episodes, medical appointments not being kept, incidents involving the Police, issues relating to the parents.