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Unified data can stop teenagers 'falling through the gaps'

More can be done to help 120,000 vulnerable teenagers who are not receiving the support they need from local authorities.

Responding to a newly-published report by the Children’s Commissioner, Sentinel Partners director Graham McCusker explained that data technology is able to identify the majority of those who are currently falling through the gaps.

“Software such as ours is already helping local authorities to identify vulnerable people and families across a range of scenarios, but it could be used far more widely. This report highlights the urgent need for this to happen,” he said.

Based on a cohort of teenagers from the National Pupil Database (NPD), the Children’s Commissioner’s research looked at those with identified needs and those who were, and weren’t, receiving support.

More than 81,000 were identified as either receiving uncertain support or had lost contact with mainstream services.

A further 42,000 16 to 17-year-olds who are not in education, employment or training (NEET) are also classed as falling through the gaps, with the report classing the total of 120,000 as a lower estimate.

The wide set of vulnerabilities include SEN needs, PRU contact time, absence, exclusions, referrals to children’s service and social care interventions.

“These are all things that can be tracked by technology that integrates separate multiple data streams to form a clear and accurate picture of what’s happening,” Graham added.

“Local teams can set their own threshold levels within the software, so that it automatically monitors data as it is received to alert them as scenarios are identified that they need to know about.

"This can include all manner of early warning situations that help to highlight individuals at increasing levels of risk before they reach points of crisis or before they fall off the radar.

“We work with our clients to use their data in a more efficient and pro-active way to identify individuals in need, so that they can provide earlier and more effective support. “

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