Capital funding for IT systems in children’s social care will no longer depend on councils’ compliance with national requirements for the Integrated Children’s System, the government confirmed today.
Authorities will instead be able to use “local discretion” in how they implement the ICS as part of reforms outlined by the Department for Children, Schools and Families.
In a letter to children’s directors sent out this week, the government announced that an expert panel of ICS users, managers and local authority project co-ordinators would look at taking the reforms forward.
These include a review of national business and technical requirements and helping councils assess the “usability” of their systems by early September.
The DCSF has previously made £5 million available to councils to support the development stage known as 1C, covering information on looked-after children, with a deadline of October. But today the government confirmed that councils which had not met this would still be eligible for a further £6.4 millon capital grant to tackle existing problems with implementing the system.
The reforms follow the interim report of the Social Work Taskforce in May, which said it had made investigating concerns about the ICS “a priority” after many social workers reported poor IT support and inadequate hardware. The task force asked the government to find “immediate” ways of making the systems easier to use.
Junior children’s minister Delyth Morgan said: “Part of developing a highly skilled and professional workforce is ensuring that the IT system social workers use is accessible, workable and secure. The Social work Task Force agreed that ICS is the right system but made a number of recommendations. Today we are driving this change forward by setting out how government will support local areas develop and implement systems that meet the needs of their workers.”
Chair of the Social Work Task Force Moira Gibb welcomed the government’s response, adding: “It is now critical that local authorities grasp the opportunity to reduce the burden on practitioners by ensuring that their systems are fit for purpose.”
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