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Survey highlights information demands

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A survey of 6,000 children’s services professionals has highlighted the time staff spend tracking down key information on vulnerable youngsters.

Junior children’s minister Delyth Morgan said the findings were a strong argument in favour of the controversial ContactPoint database, which is being progressively introduced to bring together the required information on all the nation’s under 18s.

New Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF) figures show practitioners such as social workers spend an average of more than five hours a month trying to access information such as contact details for counterparts, the existence of assessments, and demographics.

On average two hours a month is taken tracking down the contact details of other practitioners involved with vulnerable children - an average of around 20 minutes each - with a 79% success rate.

Staff in London are occupied the longest searching for counterparts’ contact details of other practitioners, averaging more than half an hour for each individual query.

The minister said: “We conservatively estimate time saved to be at least five million hours per year which will be better spent working directly to support children and young people.”

However the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats insist the database should be scrapped and the £41m running costs invested differently.

Lib Dem shadow children’s minister Annette Brooke said the savings from such a move could be used to “give social workers more administrative and technical support”.

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