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February 2020
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Go it alone Council breaks the mould' on child protection IT

A Council that turned its back on a £147,000 Government grant to develop a child protection IT system, has just seen the system it developed independently scoop a prestigious national e government award.

Known as KCics, the system was hailed by the judges at the award ceremony this week as -breaking the mould. But more gratifying still for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea that designed it, hundreds of social work staff are commenting favourably on the reliability and ease of use of KCics. This includes many social workers who have previously worked in other boroughs, using other systems.

The controversial decision to reject the Government grant was taken in October 2008. Grants were available to all local authorities providing the systems they developed or purchased met a detailed government specification. However, after careful deliberation, Royal Borough child protection and IT experts concluded the spec. was just too elaborate.

They feared it would add unnecessary cost and was so detailed it would lead to box ticking rather than professionally judged assessments of risk. They also suspected that entering the information required under the specification would eat into critical time spent talking with and understanding children and family situations and that the system would be poor at generating documents for case conferences and other proceedings.

Feedback from local authorities that turned to the marketplace to buy systems compliant with the Government spec. strongly suggest the Council’s anxieties were well-founded. Many practitioners are reporting that these systems are difficult to use, time consuming and over prescriptive. Courts and other agencies are also expressing dissatisfaction with the forms they generate.

-We are very proud of this IT award, our system, and our officers who worked so hard to produce it, said Cllr Shireen Ritchie, Cabinet Member for Family and Children’s Services.

-Refusing a large Government grant is a difficult and controversial thing to do.

But we believe the Government spec. for this critical recording system was over engineered. It was wrong for the Royal Borough and wrong for our children in need.

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