BECOMING A CARER
Daily Logs – Everything a foster carer needs to know
Writing daily logs is part of the job for every foster carer in the UK.
These logs are a written account of what has been happening for a young person while they’ve been looked after by their foster carer on any given day.
Daily logs don’t need to be complicated, or long, but they do need to be respectful and they do need to be kept to a high standard — and that means meeting the legislative guidelines (known as the National Minimum Standards, or NMS).
Consistently not completing a daily log on time, or keeping a log that is not accurate or not of a high quality, could lead to a foster carer being supported through a formal standards of care process, to improve this area of development.
Daily logs should include:
- Unexplained or non-accidental injuries seen on a child
- Any allegations from a child, regarding the carer or another child
- Sudden changes in behaviour or demeanour
- Self-harming behaviour
- Inappropriate sexualised behaviour
- A child being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Any concerns that a child is at risk of sexual exploitation
- A child running away / not returning home / missing
- Eating and sleeping patterns
- Relationships within the foster home
- Contact with or between the child’s family and friends
- Contact with the school and educational information, this could include homeschool agreements
- Visits and meetings with professionals
- Achievements and celebrations
- Sanctions or consequences put in place by the foster carer.
That may seem like a lot to cover in a daily log, but with practice and feedback from their supervising social worker on how these logs are written, most foster carers get the hang of it quickly and use a quite structured approach to these logs.
The logs are regularly sent to the young person’s social worker.
The social worker reads the log entries to gauge how the young person is being cared for, to monitor how they’re developing and to track behavioural patterns.
The logs then become part of the local authority’s formal record of the young person in care.
(At Lika, we send these securely on behalf of our foster carers to the young person’s social worker.)
Safer caring is the term we use when we describe how foster carers show they’re sensitive to the risks posed to the young people in their care. It’s all about putting plans in place to ensure the foster placement, the young person and anyone living in the household are safe.
There are several ways this is done, and writing daily logs is a big part of that.
The intention behind writing these logs is to demonstrate how a young person is being cared for and kept safe and how their lives are being improved. It means we have a written narrative of a young person’s time in foster care, which they can look at either while in care or when accessing their files in later life.
Also, daily logs are there to protect both the young person and the foster carer in mitigating against allegations, by providing a date-stamped record of safer care in the placement. Around a third of foster carers in the UK have had allegations made against them, making daily logs an essential part of the role.
One way to create safety, closeness and honesty in fostering relationships is for foster carers to be transparent with the young people in their care.
At Lika, if the young person is at an age where they can understand and they aren’t being exposed to sensitive information, then we ask our foster carers to show their young people what is written in the daily logs.
After all, it’s the young person’s log — so having a sense of how their foster carer records their life opens up a space for discussion. It’s a great way to talk about how to write and describe events in the day, to listen to one another’s perspectives and to negotiate on language.
This approach is also supported in the NMS: “Children are actively encouraged to read their files, other than necessarily confidential or third-party information, and to correct errors and add personal statements.” (From Section 26).
Here are some pointers to help any foster carer in the UK write a great daily log.
- Avoid emotional or judgemental language. It’s not a personal diary or a place to vent frustrations
- Think of the daily log as a tracking system for observing successes, differences in behaviour and how you have intervened with the young people in your care
- Be clear with your language and say what you see
- Hold in mind the audience. This includes the young person, their birth family, professionals and, potentially, the court if requested
- Be thoughtful with your language and how you phrase and comment on what you notice and see. Think again about the audience and how this may be interpreted. Remember, language is powerful
- Be clear. Is it a fact (something that has actually happened which can be verified or corroborated), an opinion (a belief or interpretation of events – this means it’s subjective) or hearsay (information told to you by others, which is relevant, but you cannot personally verify)?
- Don’t use jargon or acronyms. These might make sense to you but may exclude others from understanding what you’re communicating
- Have a routine for when you write your logs and have a treat when the task is complete! Falling behind may mean you miss information and detail. Missed logs can build up quickly
- Use the initials of people who are in or who have visited the household. This is in line with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance requirements
- Use headings in your logs to offer structure and focus points on the areas you’ve been asked to track, such as what the young person might be eating, their mood or particular behaviours. Use scaling (like 0 – 10) to articulate any difference in mood or behaviours
- Have your supervising social worker look over your notes, offer specific feedback and give their opinion on how you’re getting on – we’re all on a learning journey
- Jot down little notes in your phone during the day. That way, at the end of the day when you need to write, you have an accurate prompt of the day’s events.
Here’s a good example of what a foster carer might write in a daily log. In this example we’re talking about BK — an 11-year-old who recently came to live with foster carer, Nazanin.
“BK was up quite early again today at around 5.30am. She had a bowl of cereal and some toast. There seems to be a pattern that on Mondays she wakes early. She was dressed and ready for school, which is something new that BK had not done since staying with us.
“We played some games in her room for a little while and I was able to ask her some questions about morning times where she used to live. I was curious to know how adults usually responded to her when they noticed she might be worried about something.
“What I had taken from this talk was that BK can feel a bit nervous about school on Mondays, as she is still making friends and doesn’t sleep well. She described having regular nightmares. She’s asked that we have a ‘wake up, it’s Monday morning’ game time to help her relax before leaving for the day.
“I dropped BK off at the school gates for 8.30am, where she seemed to be in a good mood.
“After picking BK up from the school gates at 3.30pm, we went home. She played in her room for two hours before dinner prep together.
“BK had a snack of crackers, cheese and an apple whilst making dinner together. We had dinner at 6.30pm, which BK had cooked for us as she wanted to show what she had learnt in cooking class this week.
“BK made spaghetti and meatballs. Over dinner BK talked a bit about her parents. The trigger was a domestic abuse story on the news. There were no new disclosures; however, the discussion allowed us to talk about what she missed about her parents but also how this time apart whilst in care has left her feeling safer.
“We played Uno after dinner until bedtime at 8.30pm. BK brushed her teeth and read for half an hour in bed before lights out for 9pm.”
If you’re in south or east London and you’re interested in becoming a foster carer, give the helpful team at Lika a call on 020 8667 2111. We’re here to answer all your questions.
We’re in the London boroughs of Croydon, Sutton, Bromley, Merton, Lambeth, Westminster, Wandsworth, Lewisham, Southwark, Islington, Camden, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, City of London, Haringey, Newham, Redbridge, and Barking and Dagenham, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea.