Feeds

Munro report: Child protection staff hindered by IT

Social workers say present ICT systems 'obstacles to good practice'

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

A number of social workers interviewed for a government-commissioned review (177-page PDF/2.1MB) of child protection in England said that their locally procured computer systems were "substantial obstacles" to good practice. The workers were participating in an online conversation as part of the report by Professor Eileen Munro.

The document says that any ICT redesign within child protection should be reviewed to determine if it helps or hinders frontline practice.

"This obviously will include any practice procedures and guidance, but more often ignored is the detail of business processes for finance, personnel and room bookings, for example. Most critical, however, is the provision, maintenance and review of ICT systems," says the report.

It acknowledges that the impact of technology on human performance is complex, and says that the conventional view is that new information technology and automation creates better ways of doing the same tasks.

"However, it is more accurate to say that any new technology is a change from one way of doing things to another. It alters the tasks that humans are expected to perform and it can, in subtle and unexpected ways, influence and distort the way they carry out their part of the process," it says.

It offers a number of recommendations in designing or procuring new software and says that local authorities should consider the following.

  • Recording systems for child and family social work should meet the critical need to maintain a systemic and family narrative, which describes all the events associated with the interaction between a social worker, other professionals and the child and their family.
  • ICT systems for child and family social work should be able to adapt with relative ease to changes in local child protection system needs, operational structures and data performance requirements.
  • And the analysis of requirements for ICT-based systems for child and family social work should primarily be based on a human-centred analysis of what is required by frontline workers, with any clashes between the functional requirements being resolved as quickly as possible.

It goes on to say that recording is a key social work task and its centrality to the protection of children cannot be underestimated. Getting effective recording systems in place to support practice is critical, it adds.

"Although mandatory requirements to use the prescribed recording system, endorsed by the previous government, have recently been removed, most systems currently in use were developed on that basis. A major challenge for local redesign is therefore to develop, with social workers, new ICT systems to meet their case recording needs," explains the review.

Data on performance is also singled out as being an important area that could be improved. Local government and its partners should use a combination of nationally and locally collected performance information to help benchmark performance, facilitate improvement and promote accountability, it says.

"Performance information should not be treated as a straightforward measure of good or bad practice but interrogated to see what lies behind it. A low number of children being removed from their birth families, for example, can arise from skilled help making the children safe or from a poor quality assessment of risk," it adds.

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.