Chronologies record the significant events about families and about the work we do with them. This document describes what a chronology is and the type of information that will appear in a chronology.

Chronlogies have become one of the most talked about and least understood tools in modern social work practice

                                                                                                 Social Work Inspection Agency, 2010

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.

In their analysis of Serious Case Reviews (2003-2005), Brandon et al. identify that a common theme identified in many reviews is that there is a "lack of a thorough social history on which to base a more coherent and developmentally informed analysis".  Our past experiences make us what we are today, and many predictors of risk are based in what we know has happened historically.

A chronology is not a substitute for an assessment, but forms part of the assessment.  It should:



A sample layout of a chronology is as follows:

DateEventWhat action was taken?
01/01/01Police called to domestic abuse incident between mother and partner.  Children present.Visit to family to discuss incident and impact on the children of witnessing violence. Family advised that any further incidents would lead to child protection conference being called.

Key information in chronologies should include:



It is important that chronologies are shared with the family as this allows the content to be checked for accuracy, but also allows them to reflect on the content of the chronology.

A valuable addition to a chronology is a genogram.