Tuesday 26 September 2017

Childcare database further delayed to next year

Genna Patterson

THE National Childcare Information System that was called for more than two years ago has been further delayed until next year.

The database is intended to hold all the details of all the children in state care, as well as those who social workers may have concerns about.

Information will eventually be available to around 1,800 professionals, including social workers, children and family services directorate staff and those with suitable clearance such as gardai and hospital staff.

The HSE project was delayed earlier this year due to the selection process of a provider for the service.

While Careworks Ltd has now been chosen as the provider, an HSE spokeswoman said the system would be rolled out "in a phased basis", but not before next year.

She said the delays had arisen because "it is essential that the information in each area is consistent before the computerised version is brought online, and that the system is fit for purpose and all relevant bodies consider the initiative is value for money".

The spokeswoman added that child protection staff were "continuing to work to safeguard children according to current policies and procedures and within their resource capabilities".

CRITICAL

However, children's rights campaigners are increasingly critical of the delay.

Emma McKinley of the Children's Rights Alliance said they were "very concerned that this system has been delayed time and time again".

She said the Children's Rights Alliance believed the development of a National Childcare Information System is "an important part of the child protection jigsaw".

Ms McKinley added: "Such a delay undoubtedly has a negative impact on children at risk, as the full level of protection is simply not there."

The information system project is being overseen by a board comprising Children and Family Services Management personnel, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, the HSE ICT Directorate and end-users.

It is currently being constructed and a pilot site is being prepared.

The system is funded by the HSE Service Plan and will cost €1.25m once complete.

A national database system was first called for more than two years ago amid the fallout from a number of high-profile deaths of children while in state care.

Irish Independent

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