In the alpha phase of our Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) funded Family Context project, we developed a prototype of our digital solution for how best to provide social workers with the key information they need when they first interact with the family. 

With a further award from MHCLG, we are now able to move on to the beta stage where we hope to create a viable digital solution that has the potential for national adoption. 

Building on our learning during the alpha phase, we intend to be open and transparent in how we work; and create reusable artefacts for others to use, such as: 

  • Executive summary – a high-level view of Family Context so a new local authority can decide if it is right for them
  • Implementers guide – a concise document outlining how a local authority new to Family Context can implement it where they are. The guide will provide:
    • Suggested approach and phasing for this multi-disciplinary project
    • Clear guidance for different discipline specialists involved, including service leads, technical leads, and information governance leads
    • Links to tools and materials we’ve used during the planning and roll out, including user research scripts, digital prototypes, API specification and reference front-end implementation, data justifications, and a reference data protection impact assessment

How we started

To start our beta phase, we re-formed our multi-disciplinary team from alpha, and added new colleagues with a more technical skillset aligned to our new deliverables. All the hard work and effort in alpha really paid off when explaining the vision and the foundations we were building on to people new to the project, allowing them to get involved at the earliest stage.

Collaboratively, and leaning on our experiences from alpha, we have involved specialists from Information Governance, Technical, and Social Work Practice to ensure we can make the most effective progress in each area:

Our Information Governance and Ethics colleagues are involved in activities like:

  • Revisiting IG requirements from alpha
  • Ensure IG requirements are in place for all parties relating to the most valuable data sets
  • Obtain the data from other agencies
  • Get the view of residents on the appropriateness of the approach through a citizen panel

Our technical team is involved in activities like:

  • Creation of common data standard
  • Creation of common design pattern
  • Build prototype of digital tool
  • Secure digital agency to assist with build

Social work practitioners are involved through activities like:

  • Choosing the locality to run pilot
  • User research
  • Digital testing
  • Staff training

Next steps

Planning has been the easy part and now it is time to get to work. The beta phase is exciting and challenging and we’ll keep you updated with our progress as we continue. If you would like any further information in the meantime, please have a look at the project’s materials from alpha on GitHub; the project’s updates in beta on our Pipeline; or even feel free to get in touch.

Read the next blog, Family context project: a successful pilot and an exciting future ahead.

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