Electronic system behind schedule

Most councils will miss the government’s deadline to implement a key electronic case management system for children’s social care, the Department for Education and Skills has warned.

In a letter sent to children’s services directors, the DfES said only a “minority” of councils would implement the Integrated Children’s System by the target of 1 January 2007. It raised concerns that about 20 councils had “very late or unclear” implementation plans for the system, under which children’s case records are handled electronically.

DfES accused some councils of failing to act with “sufficient urgency” and also blamed a “lack of capacity” in parts of the IT market.

But a lack of guidance from the government was hindering implementation, said David Johnstone, chair of the Association of Directors of Social Services standards and performance management committee.

He also accused the government of “naivety” in expecting councils to meet the target without being involved in developing the system.

David Hawker, interim chair of the Association of Directors of Education and Children’s Services, said that some IT companies were “a long way behind” in developing the system.

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