Social IssuesStockport

National funding award for digital project for Stockport family social services

Stockport Council has received a Local Digital Fund award to further develop the Family Context tool.

Stockport Council and Ealing Council have received a further £336,400 from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities (DLUHC) Local Digital Fund. The councils will use the money to continue to develop the innovative ‘Family Context’ tool. This tool provides social workers with easier access to contextual information to support child referrals more efficiently and enable them to spend more time helping children and their families.

Councillor Colin Foster, Cabinet Member for Children, Family Services & Education, Stockport Council says: “This project tackles the problem of how best to provide social workers with key information relating to the family and the services engaged with them when they first make contact. We have run a successful pilot with our social workers and have found that having easier access to information from different sources leads to significant improvements in the service. The Family Context tool is already saving thousands of hours of social worker time – hours that can be better spent helping families and getting children access to the right support more quickly.”

Councillor David Sedgwick, Cabinet Member for Citizen Focus and Engagement, Stockport Council says: “This is an example of how a focus on user need and experience can transform the way we deliver services. We had social workers embedded in the team, helping to guide progress and involved in all project stages through to launch to ensure the tool aligned to their needs. We’re incredibly excited about the next stage of our journey with councils from across the country and other government departments interested in collaborating with us on its future development. We are proud to be leading the way on this cutting-edge project, which has the potential to be rolled out across the UK, reducing risks to vulnerable children everywhere and making the most of local government resources.”

Below are quotes from Social Workers involved in the pilot explaining how the new tool helps each day:

“I used Family Context to contact the primary lead and got the information back in that same meeting and fed that in – it helped inform what that intervention was going to be for that family.”

“Time, time, time. It’s absolutely amazing to be able to bring everything together very quickly. We’re so busy that being able to do something in 20 minutes rather than 2 hours makes such a difference to us.”

“You can spend a lot of time setting up a ‘Team around the child’ meeting… a couple of weeks. If the info is on there, you go straight to it – boom, boom, boom and send the invites out right away.”

“I’d looked at a family and seen there were rent arrears, so I went to her to talk about it. I’d never have had that information had I not seen it on there. I just wouldn’t have asked. Unless they’re at a point of eviction, you don’t know.”

The award is the third one received from DLUHC for this project and builds on previous work in Stockport and Leeds to explore and test potential solutions with social workers. Stockport Council is collaborating with Ealing on this phase of the project. We will also be working closely with other Local Authorities to ensure we develop software suitable for sharing more widely.

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