Child protection departments should provide a 24-hour service for other agencies and professionals needing information about vulnerable children, according to Professor Eileen Munro’s final report on child protection.
Munro said ContactPoint, the controversial database of looked-after children and children on child protection plans, should not be replaced with a national signposting system, as promised by the coalition government.
Instead, agencies needed to communicate better over the phone, sharing the context of a child’s situation rather than their status alone, she concluded.
The report said: “A consistent finding from serious case reviews is that there is often a failure in the human performance, rather than an absence of the required framework or procedures for sharing information.”
Munro said there was often little value in simply establishing a child’s protection status, pointing out that 72% of children who were the subject of an SCR between 2007 and 2009 had never had a protection plan. Conversation between agencies, she said, would provide more valuable information about a case and improve decision-making.
The report said health and police agencies had expressed little enthusiasm for an IT-based ContactPoint replacement, as they already had their own systems in place and having to handle a second database would take up valuable time.
Doctors also told the review that phoning a children’s services department sometimes took too much time due to the wait for a response. A 24-hour system, Munro said, would improve matters.
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