We welcome the Guardian and Telegraph articles which represent a balanced perspective on the opportunities, challenges and risks in adopting new analytical approaches in Children’s Services. We would like to make the following observations and clarifications on the deployment of our data sharing and analytics platform:
Councils are facing a cash crisis that is pushing child services to tipping point , with “MPs warning that unless action is taken the funding crisis could cause another tragedy like the Baby P scandal”. In this context councils need to make sure that they are doing everything they can to target less resource more effectively. It is a ‘win/win’ if they can do that by providing support for families earlier, helping to prevent a problem worsening and avoiding more costly interventions later.
Although great strides have been made since the Baby P case, the wider system still needs to do more to join up data across public sector agencies so that we can better identify at-risk families and prevent tragic outcomes for children, between 2007 and 2014, nationally 260 children still died at the hand of their parents .
In common with other parts of the public and private sector, councils have an opportunity to become more efficient and effective through the application of advanced analytics. The challenge is how to use these technologies to drive data sharing that is open, proportionate and compliant with data protection legislation.
In response to these challenges, we are working with our clients to develop an approach that only shares data about families if they are showing signs of distress and where there is already an agency / professional working with family .
The system does not make any decisions about subsequent interventions or services; these decisions should be and are always be made by professionals / case workers.
We believe that the work we are undertaking is critical to improving outcomes for vulnerable people as well as enabling our clients to target its limited resources more effectively.