The Department for Education and Skills said it hopes to complete a business case for a national system by autumn 2005.
The DfES said any IT systems councils introduce to address urgent needs to improve information sharing about children at risk will 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 systemsÉ
"Work is still at the early design and planning stage. The preferred approach is for a network of 150 local indexes, managed at upper-tier local authority level, plus further co-ordinating systems.
"The DfES recognises that local authorities may already have pursued, or wish to pursue, IT products 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 now must be regarded as an interim measure. The DfES will not provide any specific funding to support interim IT systems."