Panorama requested a response from Children's Minister Kevin Brennan in relation to the issues raised in our film You can run... but can you hide? which talks about ContactPoint and eCAF. Both responses we received are reproduced below.
The minister's statement concerning ContactPoint follows:
"ContactPoint was a direct recommendation from Lord Laming, following his Inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbié. It will provide a quick way for people working with children to find out who else is working with the same child. It will support early intervention and prevention, and help to ensure practitioners work more effectively to provide co-ordinated support for children and young people. ContactPoint will only be available to people who need it to do their jobs, who have been security cleared and been trained to use the system.
"Security of ContactPoint is of paramount importance and significant measures are being taken to best ensure that the system is secure. Independent security experts have already examined the system and we have taken on board all comments received.
"ContactPoint has already been debated in Parliament and consulted on publicly. Both national and regional communications campaigns are planned over the forthcoming months to keep the public informed on all issues.
"Local authorities are already working with relevant local agencies to begin the work of identifying children whose records will need to be shielded and the DCSF is providing guidance to support them in this work. In the vast majority of cases, requests for shielding will be made by practitioners on behalf of families. They will do this on the basis of what they already know about the child/young person, or as a result of concerns raised by the child/young person and/or their parent/carers.
"Parents who are concerned and have reason to believe their child should be shielded on ContactPoint will, of course, be able to contact their local authority direct."
The minister's statement regarding eCAF follows:
"The purpose of eCAF is simply to help people working with children to provide them with better support and improve their life-chances. Its aim is to provide a simple assessment of a child's needs and strengths, taking account of the range of factors that impact on their development. Professionals will then be better placed to agree with the child and their family what support is appropriate. The IT system will help keep bureaucracy to a minimum. It is not intended to label children and there is no evidence that it will be used to do so.
"An estimated 30% of children in England have additional needs at any one point in time - around 3-4 million children and young people. They may not all need a CAF but eCAF is there to support those who do. Only professionals working directly with a child and where there is consent from that child or parent will be able to see their record.
"All access to eCAF will be strictly controlled and all practitioners who access it will have been security checked and trained.
"Guidance for practitioners undertaking a CAF is clear that the decision to do the assessment should be made jointly with the child and/or parent/carer as appropriate in the circumstances. The guidelines for obtaining consent are clearly set out. The early CAF trials that the University of East Anglia reported on predates this guidance."