Working together to support families: kicking off phase 2.0

As we’ve seen throughout this project, keeping children and adults safe is a complex undertaking that needs government and non-government agencies to work together.   Despite the great progress that has been made in how these services are delivered in recent years, sharing information is still difficult and can get in the way of putting the family at the centre of the work of practitioners.  Complex IT systems and ways of working bury the day-to-day details of family situations and take away from the time practitioners can spend directly working with children.

We’re excited to announce that, supported by NESTA, FutureGov will be working with Lichfield District Council and its partners to now take the project on to the next stage, building and prototyping a social tech tool specifically for Lichfield’s needs.

Lichfield Strategic Partnership is developing two new projects, Let’s Work Together and Supporting Families, to help practitioners from different organisations, like the District Council and Fire Services, to work better together. We will be supporting their work by developing new ways for child protection practitioners to communicate using modern, human and intuitive technology centred on the family.

I will be leading the research and design based here in Lichfield.  Over the next 6 months, I’ll be blogging what we learn and reporting on progress.  To me, this is an exciting opportunity to produce a practical example of how social technology can support change.  To date, I’ve been meeting with the various people involved with Supporting Families and Let’s Work Together here in Lichfield to understand their roles and ideas for how the product could be developed.

The idea is to make a simple piece of software that shows information about a case and the agencies involved.  It will be designed by and for practitioners.  Staff will be able to see, at a glance, useful information to help them better understand the case, and support the child and family. Importantly, the tool will securely link with existing IT systems, giving a view of children and families across local agencies.  As it is built over time, the application may also offer a space for people to add their thoughts. The tool that is developed will be subject to rigorous security and confidentiality requirements from each of the agencies before it goes live.

This is very much work in progress and at the end of this 6-month project the software will be developed so that it can be used and tested by practitioners, individuals and families across the District.

Last word has to go to Nina Dawes, Chief Executive at Lichfield District Council, and her team as well as Carla and her colleagues in the Public Services Lab at NESTA whose enthusiastic support has made this phase of the project possible.

More soon, but in the meantime if you would like to get involved or share insight from your own work, we’d love to hear from you.