Record keeping in fostering – why it’s important and how to do it

September 12, 2023

Record keeping is an important task for foster carers. We offer training to our staff and carers and consider not only how to do it but why it can impact a young person later in life. 

Our regular learning and development programme for our staff and carers addresses topics which provide personal and professional development opportunities. Katie, a Supervising Social Worker at CHT, has shared the key points from the session she delivered.

Why is recording keeping important as a foster carer? 

Keeping accurate and clear recordings is an essential part of a foster carer’s role for many reasons, including documenting significant events in a young person’s life, assessing and picking up on patterns of behaviour, contributing to the young person’s wider care plan and to help protect and safeguard carers and young people in the face of complaints and allegations.

It is always important to keep in mind that:

  • Children and parents have the right to access information about them.
  • Records are legal documents. Any written information about children/young people can be used in a legal context, for example, should you need to go to court.

How should you record information?

Foster carers will record information in various ways, including in their weekly logs, incident reports, looked after child reviews, safer caring plans, risk assessments, reports for Children’s Hearings and much more. How much you record will depend on the young person’s needs, care plan and type of record you are keeping.

It is important to be aware of how we record a young person’s behaviour. Often, behaviour is discussed inaccurately or unhelpfully, especially behaviour that challenges us. We need to ensure when recording that we describe the behaviour that we observe, rather than record our own opinions and feelings. It can also be helpful to use quotation marks to record significant statements that the young person has said.

Writing TO the young person, NOT about them

In recent years, with policies such as ‘The Promise’ being published, there has been a shift in professionals’ use of language and how information about young people is recorded. We are changing how we record at CHT to reflect this, with our young people’s support workers already writing their case notes to the young people rather than about them. We have also recently asked foster carers who participated in the record keeping training to change how they write their logs too. We have found that writing this way, helps us to ‘put ourselves in the young person’s shoes’ and to be more thoughtful of our tone and language.

Example log

Writing the log to the young person:

“Simon, you had a difficult day at school on Tuesday. When I picked you up from school, you got in the car and slammed the door. I asked you how your day was at school but you didn’t answer and sat in silence for the rest of the journey home. When we got home, you rushed inside and started screaming, kicking the walls, throwing pillows and slamming doors. This went on for about an hour and when I thought you were calming down in your room, you had actually left the house and gone to your friend’s house. Thankfully, when I rang your mobile, you picked up and told me where you were and that you would be back in half an hour. 

You were a lot calmer when you arrived home and told me that a boy in your class had been calling you names and so you shouted at them to “shut up” but your teacher heard and told you to stand outside the classroom. You told me the teacher didn’t listen to your side of the story. We talked about how that made you feel and we had a think together about how you could manage a situation like that in the future. We talked about trying to take a deep breath before retaliating and telling the teacher or another member of staff that you trust when you aren’t happy with something. I told you that I was so glad you trusted me enough to talk about the situation and that I know how difficult it can be for you to share your feelings with others. Later on in the evening you came up to me and gave me a big hug and said sorry for kicking the walls and slamming doors earlier.“