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The Aggregating Data tool provides reliable management information for planning and monitoring existing services or for developing new ones. It is linked with several other tools in the series, in particular the clinical assessment tool Paperwork.

While there are many ways of generating management information, data collected using Aggregating Data can be tailored specifically to the requirements of the agency or local authority.

It produces quantitative information on over 300 variables which, when aggregated, provide a broad picture of the needs, thresholds, services and outcomes of the children or young people in the agency or local authority.

The data collection sheet is designed to transfer information about children from professional records to a computer for analysis. The work requires much less staff involvement than Matching Needs and Services.

Once the data has been keyed into a computer, it can be analysed to provide a range of information, including straight counts (for example, the actual number of asylum-seeking families referred to a service) and proportions (for example, the percentage of all children referred who have a Statement of Special Educational Needs). A statistical technique called cluster analysis can also be used to group together children with similar needs – this is extremely useful for new service design or development work.

The tool will help to provide answers to the kinds of question routinely faced by policy makers, managers and practitioners. For example, a large agency in England is investigating whether there are children currently looked after by the state whose needs could be better met by family support, and a health authority in Ireland has used the tool to examine the type and severity of need of the children on waiting lists.