Local authorities are already asking integrated children’s system (ICS) providers to implement computer systems in line with Professor Eileen Munro’s recommendations for child protection departments.
However, ICS providers are worried because central government legal requirements have yet to align with Munro’s agenda.
“We’ve spoken to authorities who already want to take on the spirit of Munro and redesign some of their processes to be more efficient, but the question is whether the inspection regime will keep pace with that,” said David Grigsby, director of sales and strategy at ICS provider Liquidlogic.
“Local authorities may be ready to move forward, but inspectors might continue to rate ICS as they always have.”
Ensuring that systems gather the data still required by central government while exercising greater freedom is a risky challenge, Grigsby said.
“Some gung-ho customers have told us they want to sweep away the old systems and put in the more family-based systems to move towards the more holistic approach endorsed by Munro,” he said. “But we have to tell them that the new process might not collect the data that’s required for reports that the government says have to be completed.
“Will the government recognise that the authority is working in the spirit of Munro and forgive them? Or will the authorities be penalised for not having all this data collected, which they might think isn’t even worth collecting? There’s a bit of a mismatch going on here.”
Liquidlogic is frustrated by the current uncertainty around the future role of IT in child protection following Munro’s review. Munro’s recommendation to scrap core and initial assessments, for instance, is causing apprehension in the IT world.
“We don’t know what’s going to replace these processes,” said Andrew Smith, product specialists manager at Liquidlogic. “It’s quite a big change that she’s proposed, but we don’t know what a new alternative is going to look like, which makes our job that much harder.”
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