Memory Boxes and Personal History Document Boxes for Children Looked After


This supports the needs of each child looked after on a long term basis to have good information about his or her identity.

It is a required for all Children Looked After past their second review. It is additional to Adoption Case Records Procedure of the Social Work Procedures Manual, for children whose permanence plan includes adoption.

Young People who are represented on the Children in Care Council have been consulted about this procedure. They had different views about the experience of seeing documents that held a lot of emotional content for them, like photos of parents, or court orders. 'Overall, the young people wished they had a box with all the memories in it and it was very poignant when we talked about the hospital wrist bands - one young person said they would love to have such important items'.

This chapter was added to this manual in September 2014.

1. Who has a Memory Box and a Personal History Document Box and File?

Every child, who is looked after, past the statutory second review, will have a Memory Box and a Personal History Document Box with electronic records within their Live Link file (see Liquidlogic Children's System and Livelink Guidance, Livelink - What is it and How it Should be Used).

This is to support the child's sense of identity, and his or her memories, both now, and when he or she becomes a young person and then an adult. Real belongings that link to his or her story, in a meaningful way, will support his/her self-esteem and understanding of their journey whilst in our care.

Each child or young person's journey is unique. Decisions about what the young person will hold, or will be held by his/her carers, in the Memory Box, and what will be stored by Hertfordshire County Council, in the physical Personal Document Box and on Livelink, must be individually made and reflect the child's / young persons needs and circumstances at that time. The needs of a young child with a permanence plan of adoption and a young person who is looked after on a voluntary basis and Children Services are working in partnership with him/her and his/her parent(s) will require very different decisions and take into account the wishes and feelings of the young person. All such decision-making will be clearly recorded by the social worker on LCS reviewed by the IRO within the record of the Child Looked After Review.

2. What is the Memory Box?

The Memory Box will contain memorabilia significant to the child such as the original birth certificate, child's hospital birth wristband, soft toys, letters, celebration cards, first drawings and paintings, photographs/images of birth parents and other relatives or significant people. There will be photographs/images of the journey in placement and childhood achievements. Items will ideally have luggage labels to describe why they are important, or should be photographed and the story written on that There is an expectation that foster carers and residential services will provide images in digital form (i.e. memory stick as images on disc deteriorate over time), or sent by email. 

Decisions must be made as to whether the child should have the originals of such paper records, or copies. The originals should be scanned into LiveLink, noted on LCS, and a hard copy either given to the child or placed in the Personal History Document Box.

The Memory Box will be held by the child/young person and his or her carer. 

The exception to this are:

  • If the child/young person's placement patterns are not sufficiently settled for the carer to hold the Memory Box;
  • Young people in 'other arrangements'/semi-independent placements may also not be well placed to hold their own Memory Box;
  • Children/young people who have experienced disruption of an adoptive or long term foster placement may not want the physical records of those placements with them.

In these cases the child's social worker will:

  • Discuss with the Senior Support Officer, on their site, arrangements for storage; and
  • Ensure the decision making and location of the Memory Box are clearly recorded on LCS.

3. What is the Personal History Document Box and File?

The Personal History Document Box will contain hard copies of documents that are also saved in a Livelink file and noted on an LCS case note entitled 'Personal History Document Box'. In due course there will be a LiveLink file named Personal History Document File. Original documents will be retained in either the Memory Box or the Personal History Document Box.

3.1 For all children looked after

  1. Key correspondence to and from members of the child's birth family to the child;
  2. All letters from parents;
  3. Later Life Letter (if appropriate);
  4. Photographs/images, certificates, personal mementoes of early years and during their period in care.  Note: there is an expectation that carers will provide photographs in digital format (i.e. a memory stick as images on a disc deteriorate over time), or send by email;
  5. Photographs/images, cards, open letters provided by birth family for the child specifically;
  6. Original copy of Adoption Order, Birth Certificate, Passport, Final Court Orders, Trust documents;
  7. Notes and records of significant medical or health events.

3.2 Additionally for all children who are placed for adoption

  1. CoramBAAF Obstetrics From M/B;
  2. Correspondence between the agency and birth family about the emerging plans for the adoption of the child.

These children will also have an LCS Adoption Case Record. The following will also be scanned into the LCS Adoption Case Record:

  1. Frontsheet/checklist for key biographical information and record of key actions taken resulting in an Adoption Matching Agreement;
  2. Details of contact between the prospective adopter(s) and birth family or carer(s) prior to Adoption Order.

4. Starting and Reviewing the Memory Box and Personal History Document Box/File

The Placement Planning Meeting will instruct when these are started and make appropriate decisions. The Independent Reviewing Officer will review the adequacy of each child's:

  • Memory Box at each CLA Review, when the Memory Box will be available;
  • Personal History Document Box and, in due course a File on LiveLink, referenced from LCS casenote.

5. Accountability and Storage of the Memory Box and Personal History Document/File

The child's social worker is responsible for the contents. The child's carers will usually hold the Memory Box. HCC foster carers, and residential carers will hold these and there will be an expectation that independent foster agency carers and residential homes will do so also.

Decisions about whether the child should keep some, or all, of the Memory Box him/herself will be reached on a case-by-case basis. Any such decisions will be recorded by the social worker on LCS and kept under review within the CLA review process.

The child's social worker will be responsible for ensuring the safe transfer of the Memory Box to any adoptive placement or change of placement.

When the carer or the young person is not to hold the Memory Box the child's social worker will discuss with the Senior Support Officer, on their site, to arrange storage.

The child's social worker will ensure the decision making and location of the Memory Box are clearly recorded as an LCS case note with a title 'Memory Box'.

6. Memory Box and Personal History Document Box: Management Overview

The Child Protection and Statutory Review Service will obtain information through the Independent Reviewing Officers. (LCS will capture this information in due course).

HCC foster carers have annual reviews of their performance. The quality of their input to the Memory Boxes will be included in this assessment.

7. Costs

Additional costs are not usually incurred, but, if they are, the Brokerage Accommodation Team (BAT) will meet these from the Additional Placement Costs budget.

8. Passports for All Children Looked After, including those Accommodated Under S 20 of the Children Act 1989

These are usually required for current usage and as such should be held by the carer or young person, unless there is good reason not to do so. In which case it should be held in the Personal History Document Box.

9. Child/Young Person Ceases to be Looked After

The child/young person may be adopted, made subject of Special Guardianship or Residence Order/Child Arrangements Order, reach 18 years of age, be reunified with parents or the Care Order is rescinded.

The final CLA Review will decide how the Memory Box and The Personal History Document Box will be given to the child/young person/adult. The Social Worker will give these to any Prospective Adopters. Children Services will hold the Memory Box and The Personal History Document Box in safekeeping if the young person/adult requests this. In any event all documentation in the Boxes should have been scanned into the Personal History Document file.

Appendix 1: Memory Boxes and Personal History Document Box and File Flowchart

Click here to view Appendix 1: Memory Boxes and Personal History Document Box and File Flowchart.