DCSF opens ContactPoint rules consultation
And what do you think of this brilliant idea?
The Department for Children, Schools and Families has launched a consultation on the rules for using England's children's database.
It has proposed a number of changes for the rules governing ContactPoint, which has been one of the most controversial government IT implementations of recent years.
The database holds basic contact information for all children, and was designed to make it easier for professionals who work with children to get in touch with each other. But it has been attacked by privacy activists as a risk to vulnerable children and the Conservative Party has pledged to abolish it if elected to government.
Changes proposed include:
• updating the law so that children who go to school in England while their parents live overseas will be included on ContactPoint
• replacing the definition of 'parental responsibility' with the more commonly used term 'parent' in order to ensure that the same legal terminology is used across different laws
• changing the term 'targeted and specialist services' to additional services
• when a decision is taken to shield a child's record, the name of their parent or carer will also be hidden, a move the DCSF said reflects existing practice
• making it clear, to conform to existing practice, that where relevant more than one address for an individual child can be held on the system
The department also said the national rollout of ContactPoint is on track and that practitioners across England can start to be trained and access the system from late October.
Children's minister Delyth Morgan said: "I am delighted that we are on track to begin to roll out ContactPoint nationally later in the year. We have received early feedback from the pathfinder areas which demonstrates the positive ways that ContactPoint is helping practitioners in their day to day work to intervene earlier and prevent problems escalating."
She added a claim that when fully operational, ContactPoint would save at least five million hours of professionals' time.
This article was originally published at Kable.
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Can't get a straight answer from DSCF
I have been trying to get the DCSF to answer me some simple questions for nigh-on three months, but haven't managed so far. Goes along these lines::
My own children were added to this database without my knowledge or consent and I don't have any way of checking whether their details are even correct. How do I go about this?
The stated purpose of ContactPoint is to "safeguard" children. In my own opinion, my children are not at any risk that they need safeguarding from, and I undoubtedly know my children better than the DCSF does. Perhaps you can tell me what you consider this risk is and how you seem to know my children better than I do?
More disturbingly, DCSF acknowledges that the mere act of putting a child's details on the ContactPoint database exposes a child to additional risk, hence the need for the "shielding" facility. But just what is this added risk? Can you provide details?
I have never got a straight answer from the DCSF yet, and they have always failed to answer within the time-limits they set themselves. They also told me several months ago that politicians' children are treated no differently from anyone else; funny that various news headlines from the past week show otherwise. What a bunch of lying scumbags.
The whole thing should be scrapped.
"Quite. And notice you have to apply, under a system where DCSF guidelines presuppose refusal in most cases - you have to prove to the local authorities satisfaction that not being sheilded will produce serious danger in your particular case."
The vast majority of shielding has taken place because local Child Services deemd it to be appropriate - children of abusive relationships, witness protection etc. Also including the children of high profile public figures (which happens to include some politicians) who might conceivably be targetted. Yes, you can apply for shielding, but in most cases it will happen automatically.
ContactPoint may save some time of professionals but the fact is, a database holding records of every single child (minus politicians children of course), is going to take a lot of professionals time to keep up to date, a task, which hithertoo professionals haven't had to do.
This database does serve a useful purpose, but it also has a very sinister purpose: to keep records on everybody. As the years go by, this information is going to prove very useful to successive governments to monitor people - we were all children once.
What would have been far more effective, a much better use of professionals time, is to keep records on only those children that come into contact with Social Services, after all that's what it should be about.