Integrated children’s systems ‘can be overhauled cheaply’

An expert says Professor Eileen Munro's call for local authorities to overhaul their integrated children's systems can be achieved cheaply.

An expert says Professor Eileen Munro’s call for local authorities to overhaul their integrated children’s systems can be achieved cheaply.

In her final report on child protection in England, Munro said: “Although mandatory requirements to use the prescribed recording system, endorsed by the previous government, have recently been removed, most systems currently in use were developed on that basis. A major challenge for local redesign is therefore to develop, with social workers, new ICT systems to meet their case recording needs.”

But Steve Liddicott, former chair of the national ICS expert panel, told Community Care: “Some of the flexibility does depend on what system you’ve got in place already, but I do know of local authorities who have been able to make quite big changes in-house to some of the older systems that have been around longer than most.”

“There’s such a big variation from one local authority to another. It depends on how your system was constructed, but it’s also down to how inventive you are about how you go about changing it.”

He admitted that this would depend on the level of in-house IT expertise but, by deploying the right skills, it was possible to avoid buying expensive replacement systems.

However, providers believe councils will invest in new systems in order to support social workers better.

Denise Harrison, co-founder of LiquidLogic, one of the ICS software developers, said: “In recent years the number of tenders for the ICS market has increased significantly as local authorities looked to replace legacy systems that weren’t performing with more flexible ones.

“This indicates a willingness from local authorities to invest in ensuring they have the best system in place to support social workers and partner agencies.”

The ICS expert panel was dissolved last year. Liddicott said that, although there was talk about replacing it with an alternative approach – one suggestion was a network of regional teams – there had been no moves in that direction so far.

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