7. How should information sharing be considered when planning for children?
Practice Guidance 4 – Information sharing and its associated charters for children, young people and families clarify when information can be shared with another agency and the considerations which need to be taken into account to ensure sharing information with another agency is lawful and proportionate and in line with data protection legislation. The lead professional and managers within the different agencies supporting a child or young person and their families should foster a culture of confident decision making and transparency with families around information sharing.
Within the GIRFEC approach, as part of the planning and assessment process, it is important to take an ecological, holistic approach to develop a full understanding of the child or young person’s world. If a multi-agency child’s plan has been agreed, collaborative working between practitioners and together with the child, young person and their family, will be pivotal to improving wellbeing outcomes. To achieve this effectively, relevant information relating to them and their families may need to be shared by the agencies involved. The information that is shared must be necessary and proportionate to the purpose for which it is being shared.
As outlined in Practice Guidance 4, practitioners working with children or young people and their families should normally keep them informed of what information will be shared with the lead professional. Consent should be sought when this will genuinely affect whether the information is shared, and consent will be used as the lawful basis for sharing information. It is important that practitioners do not give children, young people and families the impression that consent is needed if there is any other lawful basis for sharing information. Even where consent is not required, practitioners should bear in mind the need, in most circumstances, for transparency.
If any practitioner has a child protection concern, irrespective of whether a child’s plan has been agreed to, information can always be shared without consent, and this should happen without delay to ensure the safety of a child or young person. Further information can be found in the National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021 - updated 2023, which is underpinned by the GIRFEC policy and practice model.
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