support for families
Leary, Director of Sheffield Children’s Fund, replies
to the article in last month’s Messenger on the Sheffield
Identification, Referral and Tracking project (SHIRT).
project has arisen out of concern for how children, young
people and their families access support services in Sheffield
to help them through crises and other difficult times. We
are very aware of how difficult it is to raise a family when
you are on a low income and how the opportunities for children
differ widely across different areas of the city. We also
have first hand feedback from families about how difficult
it is to access the right support and advice at the right
SHIRT project is being set up as one of six pilot projects
across the country to see whether introducing more ‘joined
up’ systems for sharing information can improve children
and families’ access to the right support at the right
project has several strands:
To support better joint working at a local level so that families’
needs can be met more quickly and more appropriately.
get agreement across the city between health services,
City Council and voluntary and community sector projects
which children cause most concern and how their needs
can be met.
find out whether children actually benefit from this support.
ensure parental consent in written into all stages of
set up an IT system that enables agencies to know which
children are accessing which services.
Project manager, Claire Bullement, has been recruited and
the first stage is to be clear about which databases exist
and whether they are capable of ‘talking’ to each
other. During the next year, we will be holding a number of
events to discuss with parents and community organisations
their hopes and fears. One concern already identified is that
information about a child may be transferred without the parents
permission. This would not be legal, except for when the child
was being put in a position of significant risk, but the project
will have to ensure that consent forms are properly understood.
more teams are being set up for workers in different agencies
to work together and so this inevitably means sharing information
about children and families. This project will be able to
ensure that this is all done properly and with safeguards.
project will continue to report regularly and welcomes thoughts
from parents and young people. Contact:
Leary, Sheffield Children’s Fund 0114 278 7200
Marshall, Sheffield City Council Education Directorate 0114