In December we were delighted to learn that Stockport Council and 3 partners had been chosen as one of 16 projects to be funded by the Local Digital Fund. The award of £100,000 is to pilot a way for frontline children’s services workers to access the information they need on a child’s family to assess safeguarding risk and make more informed interventions.

Since the announcement, we and our partners have been spending time planning the work for the weeks and months ahead, whilst simultaneously getting everything ready for the data science and prototype build work streams.

We have agreed a purpose statement and aims which help summarise what we plan to do:

Purpose statement:

“To more effectively harness the power of our data, enabling front line workers to identify the services that are working with vulnerable children and their families, better understand the family, family relationships and risks, and ultimately enable more effective coordination of support to ensure children are safeguarded appropriately”

Our aims are to:

  • Provide greater awareness of which services are involved with children and their families to improve decision making and drive better outcomes e.g. avoiding unnecessary escalation
  • Reduce ad-hoc, and sometimes inappropriate, information sharing/requests
  • Reduce intensive manual data sharing processes
  • Enable collaboration between Local Authorities, by designing solutions to work for multiple authorities

 

Alpha Phase

We will be working in an agile fashion; developing, reviewing and iterating as required.  However, below is a rough outline of what we plan to cover over the next few months.

We are currently, with Information Governance colleagues, completing all the necessary processes to ensure the entire project team will have access to the required data to begin the prototype build.  This involves completing Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIA) to identify what data we need to share, highlight any risks and ensure we mitigate those risks appropriately. More information on DPIAs can be found on the Information Commissioners Office website.

We have identified the datasets and fields we will require and are putting in place steps to ensure we can quickly source the data we need for the development phase of the project.  We will be utilising our enterprise data warehouse for this task.

User Research

We have also identified volunteers to assist with the user research and design work stream, including a small number of Children’s Social Workers in Stockport.  A similar number will be involved from Leeds and we therefore should have a good understanding of what solution(s) could work for front-line workers across a number of authorities.  This is a key requirement of the project to ensure we can re-purpose and implement the solution in any other Local Authority, if we decide to move to the beta phase.

As this is a truly agile project, we expect to discover a lot during the alpha phase and could pivot the project accordingly as we conduct additional research, build the prototype and review with front-line workers.  We will continue to update the blog with our progress, including photos of the project team hard at work!