The government is to change its rules on IT systems for children’s services after accepting that current systems fail to adequately support social workers.
The Department for Children, Schools and Families is to allow local authorities and suppliers to remove ‘forms’ and ‘exemplars’ in local IT systems supporting the Integrated Children’s System. Social workers have complained that they are too bureaucratic and focused on tick-box assessment.
The Department has also agreed to relax the deadline for the implementation of the next phase of the ICS to give local authorities and suppliers more time to fix current problems.
The two steps were recommended in the first report from the Social Work Task Force that was set up by the government following Lord Laming’s latest review of child protection.
The task force was asked to examine Lord Laming’s report, which criticised over-complicated recording systems and the utility of the ICS.
The task force did not accept Lord Laming’s call for a single national ICS because it said the overwhelming feedback had been that ICS systems should be locally owned and locally led.
It also concluded that it would not be right to scrap the ICS, as some social workers have demanded. However, it said there should be a review of its aims, conceptual framework, data requirements and exemplars.
It also called for a study of interoperability of the ICS with the children’s database ContactPoint, the national Common Assessment framework, other local systems and links to health and other professions.
n an action plan, the DCSF said it would implement all the task force’s recommendations on the ICS and the goverment has said it would work with local authorities to overhaul it.
In a letter to children’s secretary Ed Balls and health secretary Alan Johnson, the task force added: “All these issues are causing significant concern in local authorities and on the frontline and need to be addressed quickly.”
In its response the government said it would carry out a usability review of each ICS product, providing procurement support and issuing guidance on how the ICS can be used to support practice.
The Social Work Task Force intends to set out its recommendations on the long term future of IT systems required to support social work practice in its final report in October.
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