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Incident Report Writing Begins with Knowing What Facts to Include


Girl Crying at table
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Question: Incident Report Writing Begins with Knowing What Facts to Include

It is false to believe that emotions, fears, and opinions are all good things to include in an incident report. Remember that while documentation may take a lot of time and energy, it is worth the effort, this is also true for incident reports.

You may need to write an incident report when:

  • a child is injured,
  • a child has a bigger than usual tantrum,
  • a child discloses or alleges sexual or physical abuse,
  • a child damages property or steals something of great value,
  • law enforcement is called,
  • a child runs away,
  • a child harms someone or self harms.

I bet most of you remember the who, what, when, where, and how of writing a report or essay in school. It's basically the same principle when it comes to incident report writing. Just keep to the facts.

  • Who - Who was involved in the conversation or incident? What children or other individuals were present when the incident occurred.

  • What - What exactly happened? What started the incident? What were the children doing before the event occurred. Report what was said and by whom.
  • When - When did the event or conversation occur, note the date and the time.

  • Where - Where did the situation occur - at school, home, after a visit in the car? Wherever it happened, include it in your documentation.

  • How - How did you handle the situation or event? Describe what you said and how you said it. Detail the consequences you utilized, if any, and how the child responded.

  • Safety - Also remember, if the situation warrants it, implementing a safety plan and taking note of what you did as a family to keep everyone safe until the foster care agency could be contacted.

It's important to stick to the facts, not your feelings, emotions, or thoughts on the situation or event. If you feel that you must share some of your own opinions or fears, then make sure that it is recorded somewhere else, perhaps in your own journal or even in an email to your family's social worker. I feel it's important to share thoughts and feelings, but not in the same incident report used to document what occurred in your foster home.

Print off a handy worksheet to help with incident report writing.

Want to learn how to write effective documentation? Sign up for a free ecourse today, 3 Days to Writing Awesome Documentation.

Return to the True or False Quiz on Foster Parent Requirements on Documentation.

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