8.3 Chronology Guidance
- What is chronology?
- Multi-agency Child Protection Chronology
- Significant Information / Events
What is chronology?
A chronology is a succinct summary and overview of the significant dates and events in a child’s life.
The key purpose of a chronology of significant events can give an early Indication of an emerging pattern of concern.
The chronology should be used as an analytical tool to help practitioners understand the impact, both immediate and cumulative, of events and changes on the child or young person’s developmental progress.
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.
The relevance / significance of an event can change over time. A historical event which appeared insignificant or irrelevant may become highly relevant and significant in the light of further information of more recent origin.
The chronology should enable the practitioner to see at a glance significant incidents in a child’s life in summary format.
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 / 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, recording both positive and negative factors.
Multi-agency Child Protection Chronology
It provides a mechanism through which information can be systematically shared and merged, and enables agencies to identify the history of a family, providing invaluable information about a child’s life experience.
It can reveal risks, concerns, patterns and themes, strengths and weaknesses within a family, and can identify previous periods of professional involvement / support and the effectiveness / failure of previous intervention. It informs the overall assessment regarding the care-givers ability and motivation to change.
The chronology is only one means of collating information and will need supplementing by reports that draw out messages from the chronology, ensure facts are agreed and the overall pattern seen.
Significant Information / Events
There are a number of key events or incidents which should be recorded. Depending upon the nature of the risks and harm, these may vary from case to case. Examples include: