Posted by:10 July, 2012
In a bid to meet central government demands to improve outcomes and reduce costs, Derbyshire County Council is to install a highly secure £2.8m Data and Case Management Solution (DCMS) developed by CACI, that will provide staff in its Children’s & Young Adults (CAYA) Department with single view case histories on children and young adults at risk and the environments in which they live. It will also allow them to share information with partner agencies, including the Police, NHS and schools. The DCMS will replace the department’s 25 existing databases, currently being decommissioned. Andy Callow, CAYA Head of ICT, pictured, explains why the council, the first in the country, has adopted this ‘clean sweep’ approach.
In February 2010, we launched our Children’s Transformation Programme with the clear objectives to:
- Improve outcomes and the quality of services for children and younger adults;
- Bring people together and promote community cohesion, by creating independent and resilient communities and service delivery points;
- Improve safeguarding and protection of vulnerable children and young people;
- Provide integrated and co-ordinated preventative and early intervention services for children and younger adults;
- Create environments and structures which enable and embed integrated working practices, such as use of Common Assessment Framework (CAF) and Lead Professional;
- Secure cost-effective and value for money services;
- Provide a co-ordinated and effective framework for responding to the predicted budget gap over the coming years, based on current spending and service levels;
- Develop a workforce that is fit for purpose, and effective in protecting children, and ensuring that all children and young people are on the path to success
One of the biggest hurdles we faced when we commenced work on our grand plan was our existing IT system which comprised 25 separate databases - a legacy of departmental reorganisation which made things difficult from an operational standpoint.
On a day to day basis, this meant that staff working across a number of areas, were having to log onto multiple systems in order to piece together the information they required to fulfil their duties. Such gaps in communication inevitably led to inefficiencies.
We recognised that the needs of children and families do not fit neatly into service boundaries and that if we were to be effective, we had to break down the barriers and procure an IT system that supported the Transformation programme’s aims to improve collaborative and integrated working practices.
Early intervention also ranked high on our list of priorities. We needed a solution that would allow practitioners to view recent interactions with families and look at that information in context, enabling them to determine if additional support was required for a particular child, young adult, or family, in order to prevent the situation from escalating. This will ultimately help us achieve further efficiencies in operations and enable us to reduce costs.
Staff frustrations with the current system were significant. In a drive to get them to buy into the new solution, we ran a series of highly successful road shows at which we presented our objectives and initial plans and invited them to provide feedback. Over 500 staff contributed to the IT specification - support for the new system has been immense.
This set the tone for the whole procurement process. We really stressed that we were not simply purchasing an IT system we wanted to ensure we bought a tool that supported the work of practitioners, rather than practitioners being restricted by the limitations of their ICT. It is not an IT system as such, it is a ‘tool to support staff’.
CACI, leaders in children’s services software, was selected at the conclusion of the procurement process and we are now working with them to implement the solution over a 2 year period. Improvements to service delivery, supported by a tool that supports practitioners is part of our Journey to Excellence. We’ve had to make some brave decisions to get things right, we recognise that these things do not happen overnight , but we have now put the right building blocks in place to achieve this.
Andy Callow, Head of ICT, Children’s & Young Adults Department, Derbyshire CC
Anyone interested in more information about Derbyshire County Council’s transformation can contact Fiona Waring, Press Officer, Derbyshire County Council T: 01629 538204 E: Fiona.Waring@derbyshire.gov.uk
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