Sixty Second Interview with Julie Rzezniczek, Principal Officer Assessment & Case Management, Children & Young People Services at Neath Port Talbot Council.
Teachers across an area of South Wales will shortly be given access to a social services database containing information on looked-after children who attend their school it was announced this week. The scheme, which is being run by Neath Port Talbot Council, has been piloted in three schools and after proving a success will now be expanded. Amy Taylor talks to get some more details.
Why did you decide to set up the database and give teachers access to it?
Neath Port Talbot Children and Young People Services have established a multi-agency approach to our development of the Integrated Children’s System. This database is seen as a first stage pilot approach to our technological interface with partner agencies. We intend to further develop this and other interagency databases to include children who are subject to Child Protection processes. Developments will always be confined to each agencies Data Protection constraints, however, Neath Port Talbot is adopting a positive approach to Information Sharing in the spirit of working in partnership towards best outcomes for children and young people.
What kind of information does the database contain?
The information is a viewing screen with selected data fields from the ICS (Integrated Children’s System) database. This is effectively, factual information that schools would normally have in relation to looked-after children. However, they are now obtaining this information more efficiently, and it ensures that both agencies hold information which is accurate and robust. Children, parents and carers are provided with the looked-after children documentation in the usual way.
Do children themselves and their parents have access to the database and is their consent asked for before information is placed on it?
Currently the schools cannot interact with the database. Only selected, designated staff at each school, are able to access the database, which is restricted to information on looked- after children at their school.
Generally looked-after children tend to do a lot worse academically than other children. Do you hope that the database will help to improve this in your area?
The database may not in itself help to improve academic outcomes but good quality information will help support children and young people in both their social and academic development.
The council has announced plans to expand the scheme to give doctors surgeries certain information about looked after children. What will this entail and why did you decide to go down this route?
We have the advantage of working with partner agencies who are very keen to develop their links with ICS. Our health colleagues wish to initiate a second stage pilot scheme which will adopt the same approach as the school’s approach.