2.1.4 Guidance Notes for Compiling Chronologies


  1. Introduction
  2. Guidelines
  3. Significant Information / Events
  4. Process for Updating the Chronology
  5. Court Chronologies
  6. Format for Recording a Chronology of Significant Events

1. Introduction

  • A Chronology is a succinct summary and overview of the significant dates and events in a child's / young person's life;
  • A significant event is an incident that positively or negatively impacts on the child's / young person's safety and welfare, circumstances or home environment. This will involve inevitably a professional decision and / or judgement based upon the child / young person and family's individual circumstances;
  • A significant event does not have to happen to the child, but could result in a change of their circumstance, which has a positive or negative consequence for them. It is important to note that what might be a key event in one child's life, such as a period of good health or good school attendance after a long period of absence of exclusion, will not necessarily be relevant to another child. In this respect you are required to use your professional judgement;
  • A chronology is not simply a LIST of dates when contacts, referrals, telephone calls, assessments and events have taken place. It provides a sequential story of significant events in a family's history whilst inter-weaving information about emotional and / or relationship difficulties;
  • It records the circumstances and experiences of a child and milestones in their life, some experiences may not be positive but are an influence on the life of the child;
  • It contributes to an emerging picture based on fact and interaction of a case, i.e. current information is understood in the context of previous information and helps inform professional judgement through a consideration of the patterns and relationship of the events and changes in the chronology;
  • It should be used as an analytical tool to help understand the impact both immediate and cumulative of events and changes on a child / young person's developmental progress;
  • The relevance and /or significance of an event can change over time. An historical event which appeared insignificant or irrelevant may become highly relevant and significant in the light of further information of more recent origin;
  • The key purpose of a chronology is to enable early indication of an emerging pattern of risk and concern. This may be evident by gradual and persistent withdrawal from protective factors i.e. non-attendance at health appointments or school, ongoing neglect, persistent domestic abuse etc.

2. Guidelines

  • Children and young people are most effectively safeguarded if professionals work together and share information. Single factors in themselves are often perceived to be relatively harmless. However, if they multiply and compound one another, the consequences can be serious, and on occasions, devastating;
  • Professional judgement is required to decide on the relevance for a particular child / young person / family of an event;
  • Information recorded in a chronology should be relevant and succinct so as not to be lost in a mass of insignificant and irrelevant events;
  • Chronologies are not only a means of organising and merging information. They enable practitioners to gain a more accurate picture of the whole case and highlight gaps and missing details that require further assessment and identification;
  • A chronology for a child / young person may start with events that occurred prior to his or her birth if of significance;
  • Chronologies should accurately reflect family circumstances.

3. Significant Information / Events

There are a number of key events or incidents which should be recorded and depending upon the nature of the risks and harm, these may vary from case to case. The following are some examples, but not an exhaustive list:

Children Services

  • All contacts or referrals about the child / young person / family;
  • Assessments undertaken;
  • Non-accidental injury and significant injury or neglect events;
  • Child protection referrals and strategy discussions held;
  • Outcome of child protection referrals/enquiries/investigations;
  • Outcome of child protection related meetings e.g. case discussions, case conferences, core groups;
  • Dates and reason for a child being looked after and accommodated;
  • Changes to legal status;
  • Information relating to health or parental lifestyles of parents/carers that significantly impact on the child;
  • Positive or negative changes in family care structure e.g. through separation, divorce, bereavement, custodial sentence;
  • Positive or negative changes in family circumstances e.g. homelessness, birth of a sibling;
  • Referrals to Family Support Services, Home Support, Childcare or other agencies;
  • Dates and details of Social Work Involvement e.g. start date, closure of case and reason;
  • Events showing capacity of family to work in partnership and engage with professionals;
  • Lack of engagement;
  • An established pattern of missed appointments without acceptable reasons, including refusal of entry;
  • Dates and conditions of contact/conditions of no contact;
  • Change of address including foster placement and temporary accommodation;
  • Referrals to the PLO Panel and the grounds of referral;
  • Dates PLO initiated and outcome of reviews;
  • Details of planning meeting and/or review dates including LAC;
  • Child / young person's absconding behaviour / missing from home;
  • Any other relevant concerns or positive progress;
  • Any threats or actual incidents of violence to staff including verbal threats;
  • Date when summary statements, working agreements, risk assessments are completed;
  • Significant home visits;
  • Periods of calm where nothing has happened for a child may be viewed as significant depending on the child or young person's circumstances, e.g. young person has not self harmed for three months.


  • Positive or negative changes in health related problems in relation to the child or their parents/carers, such as disability, substance related issues, mental health issues etc;
  • Changes in family care structure e.g. through separation, divorce, bereavement, custodial sentence;
  • Changes to child's physical or emotional wellbeing;
  • Any event in the child's life deemed to have a significant effect on them, such as separation from main carer leading to poor attachment;
  • Changes in family circumstances e.g. housing, birth of a sibling, emotional well-being;
  • Referrals to Paediatric Services, Therapy Services, Other Agencies;
  • Attendance at Accident and Emergency;
  • Incidences of hospital admissions;
  • Childhood illnesses;
  • Changes in disability;
  • Dates of immunisations and screening;
  • Kept or missed appointments for ante-natal, post-natal appointments, immunisations, child health surveillance, hospital appointments;
  • Formal health assessments e.g. developmental, LAC;
  • Change to the Health Visitor, School Nurse or other key staff member working with the family;
  • Missed appointments without acceptable reasons, including refusal of entry or variation to routine appointment schedule;
  • Attempted suicide or overdose of child / young person or family member;
  • Threats or actual incidents of violence to staff;
  • Any other relevant concerns or positive improvements;
  • Significant home visits;
  • Physical and mental health and wellbeing of child, parents/carers;
  • Change of GP.


  • Positive or negative changes in performance, attainment or achievement;
  • Identification of Additional Support Needs within staged intervention process (including requests for support services involvement e.g. psychological service, intensive support team, care and learning);
  • If the child has an Individual Education Plan or Co-ordinated Support Plan;
  • Positive or negative changes in attendance;
  • Positive or negative changes in parental presence, engagement or support with child's learning;
  • Episodes of exclusion or re-integration;
  • Significant periods of absence e.g. illness, pregnancy, truancy;
  • Social inclusion within the school setting including evidence of bullying or positive support networks;
  • Decision to initiate an Educational Psychological Assessment;
  • Outcomes of EP assessment;
  • Change of teacher or other key member of staff from the child's school;
  • Change of school;
  • Any threats or actual incidents of violence to staff by parents or child;
  • Any other relevant concerns or positive improvements.


  • Positive or negative changes in family care structure e.g. separation, divorce, bereavement, custodial sentence;
  • Positive or negative changes in family and housing e.g. relocation, eviction, transfer to private tenancy;
  • Positive or negative changes in maintenance of tenancy agreements;
  • Positive or negative changes in neighbour relations or anti-social issues. Where this has led to further action being taken, for example ASBO, then this should be recorded;
  • Evidence of, or referrals for suspected drug dealing, drug taking or excessive alcohol use;
  • Reports of anti-social behaviour on the child or parents;
  • Reports from Elected Members, members of the public or Anti-Social Behaviour Staff regarding anti-social behaviour;
  • Any concerns about the safety or welfare of children or young people noted directly by housing staff or passed to them by others in the community e.g. children left unattended, poor standards of household cleanliness, children wandering the streets or being out in poor weather without adequate clothing;
  • Any threats or actual incidents of violence to staff;
  • Any other relevant concerns, positive events.


  • Positive or negative changes in family care structure e.g. separation, divorce, bereavement, custodial sentence;
  • Positive or negative changes in family circumstances e.g. housing, birth of a sibling;
  • Changes in family composition, including new partners, separations, non-family members moving into family home;
  • Criminal proceedings and outcomes;
  • Civil proceedings involving family;
  • Self referrals and any referrals to other agencies / teams;
  • Police logs detailing relevant incidents at family home or in relation to family members, such as reported incidents of domestic abuse, drunken / anti social behaviour of carers.

4. Process for Updating the Chronology

  • The case holder is responsible for ensuring that chronologies are maintained and kept up to date and details added to the child's / young people's computerised record (if appropriate). Updating should take place at a minimum of three monthly intervals and must be updated prior to transfer and closure;
  • It is the responsibility of the supervising manager to ensure that staff are updating their chronologies and that the staff member has a good understanding as to what is relevant and significant and what is not.

5. Court Chronologies

With the introduction of the PLO 2 there continues to be an expectation that a Chronology is submitted with the initial application for Care Proceedings and which may require updating during the proceedings.

Even if there has been Local Authority involvement with a family extending over many years, the Court is only expecting a Chronology of three to four pages which should be cross-referenced with the initial statement to avoid unnecessary repetition.

The Chronology should focus on key significant historical events and concerns, avoiding all unnecessary detail. E.g. rather than listing 10 separate missed appointment with dates, a summary which states that between (date a) and (date b) parent did not attend 10 appointments would suffice.

6. Format for Recording a Chronology of Significant Events

Taken from Care Application under Revised PLO document.

Date Event Incident Sequence Significance
1960 – Current Inter-generational poor parenting of both mother and father and of their parents in turn. (Reported by Carol Smith and Bill Treadwell). Inter-generational poor parenting is hard to overcome.
July 2005 Carol Smith's first child is removed from her care under an EPO following allegations of sexual abuse by her partner at the time.

Allegations confirmed and her partner was prosecuted and convicted. Child (b) then subject to a Care Order and Placement Order (date) and placed for adoption.
In the first set of proceedings Carol Smith was judged as unable to protect her son.
2009 Pre-birth assessment concludes Alice should be subject to a child protection plan but could be cared for safely by her parents at home. Baseline assessment of parenting flagged problems with drug misuse with both parents as well as past social and personal problems individually.
2009 - 2013 Intermittent referrals with concerns about Alice expressed by professionals and neighbours.

In May 2011, her mother asked for he to be looked after, following domestic violence (from Alice's father to mother (admitted)). Alice went home after 5 days.

In November 2012, Alice was twice received into police protection. She told police on one occasion she had run away.

In February 2013, CAMHS found Alice was experiencing significant developmental delay as a result of neglect at home
The chronology shows that the neglect of Alice by one or both parents was continuous in its impact, even if care was better during some periods than others.