Reforms to the Integrated Children’s System will be considered when government officials and local authority experts meet in August, the government has confirmed.
Delyth Morgan, the junior children’s minister, has also appointed Steve Liddicott to chair an expert panel on ICS, which will include ICS users, managers and project co-ordinators. Liddicott is assistant director of safeguarding and social care at Wokingham Council.
The panel will, in turn, report to a new ICS improvement board, which will include representatives from the Social Work Task Force and Association of Directors of Children’s Services.
Flexibility in shaping systems
In a letter to directors of children’s services this week, Morgan also confirmed previous proposals, announced in a letter last month, to give local authorities more flexibility in shaping systems to meet their own requirements, as well as allocations from a £6.4m capital grant to support ICS development.
A consultation on plans to simplify the national specifications for ICS will start in September, while the 6 August meeting will consider proposals to enable “greater sibling record cloning and the improvement of the family narrative around the child”.
Morgan also said specifications for looked-after children would be revised to take into account changes to the Children Act 1989 regulations and guidance to be published for consultation in the autumn.
Local authority ICS champions are to receive a “usability assessment toolkit” to help them to develop local improvement plans.
“Where users report a poor experience that relates to product design, we will work with users and suppliers to improve the usability of the product,” Morgan said.
Local champions should also report “positive experiences” where the ICS has relieved pressure on social workers, she added, and the expert panel would highlight these as good practice.
The reforms to the ICS follow an interim report from the Social Work Taskforce in May which found widespread problems reported by social workers, including poor IT support and inadequate hardware.
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