MCDERMID, S., 2008. The nature and availability of child level data on children in need for use by Children's Services practitioners and managers. Research Policy and Planning, 26 (3), pp.183-192.
Routine child level data collection is now part of everyday practice for Children’s Services Departments. The ability to configure child level data across a range of variables has significant potential in the assessment of cost outcomes, and commissioning. This paper will discuss the issues and implications of collecting child level data for children in need based on the findings of two complementary studies carried out by the Centre for Child and Family Research. The studies found that, while Children’s Services Departments hold a range of child level data on children in need, there are substantial difficulties with this data. Increased integration has made procuring comprehensive data on the full range of interventions provided to children in need problematic and, in some cases, the data held on Children’s Services management information systems is variable, sometimes lacking in detail and in a format that is not readily suitable for analysis. It is suggested that greater consideration may be required when planning data management procurement and analysis and that the most effective data-gathering will be found where both practitioners and managers develop a learning culture in which the ability and willingness to use data to inform both practice and planning are encouraged.