Children’s database setback as trailblazer progress remains slow

Less than six months before the government is due to take
decisions on setting up a children’s database, three of the eleven
information sharing and assessment trailblazers supposed to inform
those decisions are yet to go live.

A further three ISA trailblazers have not yet finished piloting
their information-sharing IT systems.

The projects were set up to reveal how basic information on
children can be shared between professionals to safeguard a child’s

This autumn ministers will decide whether to start working
towards implementing indexes containing basic information on all
children, as outlined in the Children Act 2004.

The deadline for spending the money – about £1m per project
– was extended until March this year because of their

Trailblazers in Gateshead & Newcastle; Kensington &
Chelsea and Camden are not yet available to any professionals to
share children’s details electronically. But Paul Brady, IT manager
at Newcastle & Gateshead’s ISA trailblazer, said that 220 staff
would be using the system by the end of this month.

He added: “It was the logistics of giving people access and
getting them released for training [on the system] that took time
but quite necessarily.”

Kensington & Chelsea has stopped working on the children’s
index part of its trailblazer until further guidance is issued by
the government due to legal concerns about data-sharing.

A spokesperson for Camden Council said that the trailblazer at
the north London borough would be going live during the summer.

Parts of the trailblazers in Leicester, Leicestershire and
Rutland; Bolton and Knowsley have gone live but they have not yet
finished piloting their systems.

Peter Chester, service manager for the ISA trailblazer in
Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland said that the scheme had
experienced difficulties in gaining health data.

Regulations and guidance will set out the operational details of
the indexes and whether they will apply locally, regionally or

A Department for Education and Skills spokesperson said that
funding for the trailblazers was continuing for a further year
(2005-6) as it developed plans for the project. The funding is part
of the £15m Change Fund to support local work on the Every
Child Matters agenda in local government across 2004-6.

“The decision to implement will depend on a robust business case
which will be informed by evidence from the trailblazer local
authorities,” said the spokesperson.


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