My department is publishing the results of a survey of more than 6,000 practitioners - the results clearly demonstrate why we need ContactPoint.
I’ve made the case for ContactPoint many times.
At any one time, around 3-4 million children and young people are receiving some sort of extra help or support, which often involves a number of different professionals. They need to be able to work together effectively, and to do that they need the right tools.
Developed in response to a recommendation from Lord Laming’s review into the tragic death of Victoria Climbié, ContactPoint is a vital tool to help ensure that no child slips through the net of support services.
It is the quick way for people who work with children and young people to find out who else is working with the same child or young person.
It holds only basic information, name and contact details for all children in England up to their 18th birthday, their parents and carers and professionals and services working with a child.
ContactPoint will also identify whether a child has an assessment under the common assessment framework (CAF), although you won’t be able to see the CAF through ContactPoint.
ContactPoint will save practitioners a lot of time because they can’t now quickly or easily find the critical information that ContactPoint is providing for them.
We conservatively estimate time saved to be at least 5 million hours per year which will be better spent working directly to support children and young people.
That’s what the workforce tell us they want. That’s what children, young people and families need.
Prestigious and respected organisations, like Barnardo’s, NSPCC, Action for Children, the Children’s Society, KIDS, to name but a few, have time and again pledged their support for ContactPoint.
We’ve been able to draw on the experience of a number of trailblazers who have piloted local systems to prove that the real benefits that ContactPoint will bring.
Benefits which we know will increase as the system is made available to practitioners nationwide over the coming months and years.
Some commentators have suggested that ContactPoint is unnecessary; or that it may be a disproportionate response to the need.
I do not agree with that view, but it is of course right that we should be expected to make a convincing case.
That is why I am pleased that we are feeding back to our delivery partners (Local Authorities and Charities) the results of an extensive survey of more than 6,000 practitioners that we conducted in spring this year.
The survey asked questions about how quickly and easily front line workers can access the information they need.
The results support our analysis. For example:
- More than three fifths of practitioners tell us that information about other practitioners involved with a child is not usually readily available, and more than one fifth of them never manage to find this information at all despite their best efforts
- Around three-quarters of practitioners say information isn’t usually readily available about whether a child or young person has a CAF or who holds the CAF. One fifth of them tell us they are never able to find this out
- Two thirds of practitioners say it’s not easy to find information about whether a child is registered with a universal service, such as a school or GP. This is particularly significant, for example, in that we need better information to identify children missing education so we can ensure they get the support they need and are entitled to
Right now, we are progressing with an early adopter delivery phase, designed to ensure we can learn early lessons before ContactPoint is rolled out more widely.
Already, more than 400 front-line practitioners, covering a range of sectors across the children’s workforce, have been trained and are using ContactPoint.
Training continues over the summer.
At the same time, we are continuing to train management teams in local authorities and national partner organisations to lead vital preparation work at local level.
By the end of the summer, trained teams will exist in all 152 local authorities across England and in seven national partner organisations. This will ensure we can begin making ContactPoint available to practitioners across England in the months to come.
It is still early days for ContactPoint. Even so, it is already starting to have an impact. A practitioner in one of the early adopter areas said:
“I had a case where a mum had been going to different agencies and authorities using different names for her child. Another area had three separate chronologies and identities for one child and we had two. This meant sufficient concerns had not been raised about what was going on in this child’s life. When I searched ContactPoint, it had grouped most of the aliases together. This helped me come to the conclusion that it is just one child, and working with my team we are now able to act appropriately to support this child.”
So, work goes on. Critical work to ensure we continue to deliver a critical system.
Work that I strongly believe will, and is already beginning, to make a real difference to the lives of children and young people in England.