Cheshire West and Chester Council

Outcome of Expression of Interest: Invited to apply

Through discussions with other councils we discovered that there is a common challenge in following children’s journeys through statutory and non-statutory social services. This can make it much harder to make informed decisions around service delivery and can result in children bouncing between services without accessing the right support.

We are running a discovery project with Wigan to assess whether having a more nuanced view of a child’s journey would result in more informed service decision making.

This discovery has shown that managers have a need for reliable reporting to identify common pathways that children take through services. This would allow more appropriate services to be commissioned, with the potential for savings by avoiding costly escalation to social care.

In the alpha phase, we will build a functional prototype data model that can provide a high-level view of children’s journeys through early help and social care; and test this with management and other users to assess if such a tool meets their needs, and technological specifications.

In this next phase we will work in partnership with Wigan, and Surrey – and intend to build a common prototype so that the tool can be used by other authorities as well.

Discovery evidence

We are running a 12-week discovery to understand why people can’t access vital information on children’s journeys through services, which decisions would most benefit from this, and what information is needed.

We’ve interviewed over 40 users from frontline staff to senior management across universal and statutory services in CWAC and Wigan. We’re holding regular show-and-tells to test our findings with users, and have spoken to users from a mix of genders, age groups, digital skills, service types, and roles.

The discovery has shown that there is a strong user need for senior management to understand children’s journeys through early help and into statutory services. This understanding would enable them to assess performance, improve commissioning, and budget setting.

We’ve found that the common issues across Wigan and CWAC that stop management understanding child journeys are:

  • Different services are on different non-interoperable case management and data systems
  • Records are not automatically matched through unique identifiers
  • There are practical, but not insurmountable, challenges to sharing data across statutory and universal services

There is therefore a need for a tool which addresses these challenges to provide management with a view of child journeys. This would enable them to improve processes and provide better support.

  • Digital leadership training (for council leaders, service managers or senior executives)
  • Introduction to service design
  • Introduction to delivery management
  • Introduction to digital business analysis