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Department For Education

Improving Child Safeguarding Through Consistent Child Identifiers

Project: Improving Child Safeguarding Through Consistent Child Identifiers



Early Feb 2022 – End March In early February 2022, the Department for Education (DfE) initiated a comprehensive project exploring how to improve child safeguarding practices across health, education, police and social care including the use of a consistent child identifier (CCI). 

This initiative aimed to streamline child safeguarding efforts and improve communication between relevant stakeholders. The project encompassed two distinct phases: CCI Pre-Discovery and Child Protection Information System (CPIS) Discovery.


CCI Pre-Discovery:

During the CCI Pre-Discovery phase, the focus was on gaining a high-level understanding of the systems and organisations involved in child safeguarding. The primary goal was to explore the feasibility of introducing a consistent child identifier. This phase involved:

  • Identifying the key systems and organisations within the child safeguarding ecosystem.

  • Exploring possibilities for introducing a consistent child identifier.

  • Building a foundation for future stages of the project.

CPIS Discovery

The CPIS Discovery phase aimed to inform how the Child Protection Information System (CPIS) could become a more effective tool for social workers. CPIS played a vital role in alerting health workers to the presence of children under protection orders or known to social services. The project teams engaged in the following activities:

  • User researchers conducted face-to-face research with social workers to understand their needs.

  • Business analysts performed a gap analysis, aligning system capabilities with social care processes.

  • Technical architects examined the CPIS system's architecture and its potential adaptation to accommodate a CCI.

  • Collaboration with NHS systems professionals to ensure a cohesive approach.

  • Holding regular show and tell sessions to share progress with stakeholders.

The outcomes of these phases were significant and formed the basis for further actions:

  • Identification of systems and processes influenced by a CCI.

  • Consideration of using the NHS number as a CCI, along with alternative proposals, outlining benefits and challenges.

  • Insights into CPIS modifications required to enhance child safeguarding support for social workers.

  • Formation of a solid foundation for addressing child safeguarding information sharing challenges.

End May to Mid August

In the subsequent phase, spanning from the end of May to mid-August, the focus shifted to defining the specific challenges faced by social workers in child safeguarding referrals and exploring potential solutions, including the role of a CCI.

CCI Discovery:

This phase involved:

  • Reviewing existing research and conducting new face-to-face research with social workers.

  • Identifying problem clusters and pain points from user needs.

  • Business analysts aligning business processes with identified pain points.

  • Collaborative mapping of a child's ecosystem, involving user researchers, service designers, and others.

  • Complex stakeholder engagement planning based on levels of interest and influence.

The outcomes included:

  • Creation of a comprehensive information pack highlighting challenges faced by social workers and the potential benefits of a CCI.

  • Laying the groundwork for a parliamentary report, scheduled for Summer 2023.

Early Feb to End April 2023

In this phase, running from early February to end April 2023, the project aimed to address specific gaps that had emerged during DfE's report writing process.

CCI Discovery 2023:

Activities included:

  • Analysing insights from a recent DfE survey on multi-agency information sharing.

  • Face-to-face research and proposal of solutions by user researchers.

  • Exploration of Local Authority (LA) landscape for data sharing and detailed analysis of reusing the NHS number for LAs and social workers.

  • In-depth investigation of LA tech practices, LA systems for child data, and NHS number feasibility.

  • Collaboration with NHS Digital to understand detailed CPIS functionality and user experience, along with planned future enhancements.


The results encompassed:

  • A detailed slide deck and written materials to support DfE's final report to Parliament. 

  • Conceptual designs aligned with LA systems for short-to-medium term improvements.

  • A long-term conceptual design aimed at transforming information sharing across education, health, social care, and policing sectors. 

In conclusion, this comprehensive case study in this highly complex and regulated area, showcases the phased discovery approach taken by the Department for Education to improve multi agency information sharing in relation to child safeguarding through the introduction of consistent child identifiers. Through thorough research, analysis, and collaboration by Talent Consultings’ skilled professionals, the project resulted in a detailed Parliamentary report which recommended practical ways to improve child safeguarding across all sectors.




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