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'Supplier' issues slowing progress

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Ninety-two out of 150 councils will miss a government deadline to implement systems for sharing information about vulnerable children.

The Department for Education and Skills (DfES), in a letter to councils, confirmed two thirds of councils will miss the 1 January 2007 deadline.

Some of the delayed councils may not be able to implement the Integrated Children's System (ICS), until at least August 2007, according to senior sources. "Supplier issues" have been cited as the main reason.

The DfES is leading the implementation of the ICS, a conceptual framework and practice tool designed to help social care managers and practitioners working with other agencies to improve outcomes for children in need and their families.

ICS is designed to be supported by an electronic case record system. A key aim of ICS is to record, collate, analyse, and share information about children, which will automatically be sent to the proposed Information Sharing and Assessment Index (IS), which will contain data on all children in England.

Andrew Webb, co-chair of the Association of Directors of Social Services' Children and Families Committee, warned that even when the systems have been implemented, communication between council systems is going to be a problem.

"Different councils have used different technology to create their systems, which means there are huge numbers of interoperability issues to be solved to get them sharing."

Socitm Consulting children's IT systems expert Anna Smallwood said: "It is important that the systems are implemented well, rather than put up quickly just to meet the deadline. But until they are, social services departments will not be able to improve the care they give."

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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