Councils warned about child protection systems


Councils warned about child protection systems

Arif Mohamed

The government has told councils not to invest in local child protection IT systems ahead of work taking place at national level.

The Department of Education and Skills (DfES) said it hoped to complete a business case by Autumn for a national system.

The DfES warned councils that any systems they were currently introducing to improve information sharing about children at risk would not meet future statutory requirements.

A DfES policy announcement, entitled Key Messages for Local Authorities on Information Sharing Indexes in Children’s Services, said, "The department is leading the project to develop a national network of children's databases or index systems, as announced in the government green paper Every Child Matters - its response to the Laming inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbié.

"Work on this is still at the early design and planning stage. The current preferred approach is for a network of 150 local indexes, managed at upper-tier local authority level, plus a further co-ordinating system."

It added, "DfES recognises that local authorities may already have pursued, or wish to pursue, IT solutions to facilitate local information sharing. Local authorities should be aware that no available system currently meets all the requirements of an IS index.

"Therefore, any investments made by a local authority now must be regarded as an interim measure. The DfES will not provide any specific funding to support interim IT solutions."

Such investments include current IT systems developed by DfES-funded Trailblazer projects to test new ways of sharing information about children and multi-agency working.

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