Family Context (Beta)


  1. Project outputs
  2. Project timeline
  3. Council Spotlight: Stockport’s Family Context tool
  4. Alpha phase summary - video

The team is conducting a beta exploring how to let frontline workers know which services are engaged with the child’s family, in a way which works across councils. This information is not readily accessible, making it harder to judge risk and ensure vulnerable families get the right support.

The development of this service aims to ensure children are safeguarded, services can co-ordinate support and frontline workers save time searching for information and can use their time more effectively. The team is using agile methodology, ensuring user needs are met and open sourcing code, making sure it is well explained so that other councils can test and implement our solution themselves.

Watch our latest Council Spotlight which showcases their digital journey developing their Family Context tool. Learn how it has improved the social work assessment process and highlighted the importance of data quality.

Project outputs


Related projects:

Project timeline

December 2018

Previous ‘Family context in children’s services’ alpha receives £100,000 from the Local Digital Fund.

March 2019

‘Family context in children’s services’ alpha delivers project outputs which are published on the Local Digital website.

May 2020

Project team works to deliver outputs from ‘Family context in children’s services’ beta, which will be published openly on the Local Digital website.

March 2022

The project is awarded £336,400 in follow-on funding through the Continuous Funding Model.

The project will use the funding to enable access to, and the integration of, additional datasets.

More data was at the top of the list of priorities for the social workers who were involved in the pilot, including data held by DLUHC and other organisations. 

The intended outcomes of this next phase are: 

  • the introduction of additional datasets, starting with youth offending, council tax, housing and education data
  • testing the hypothesis that all relevant social workers can access and use the tool
  • Information Governance gateways that include probation and health data

May 2022

In May the project kicked off its beta phase with the full team in place.

The overall aim of this phase is to roll the tool out to Social Workers within Children’s Services, beginning with 11 locality teams plus the MASSH (Multi Agency Safeguarding and Support Hub) who triage all initial referrals. It was anticipated this would be a difficult task due to staffing time and capacity, so the team started by emailing all the service leads and Team Managers to try and gain some responses and awareness.

A team of trainers have been identified and an initial training plan has been produced. The first team was trained in March, which went really well, and there were lots of questions asked and positive interest in using the tool.

The project has also identified new data sets—including Youth Offending Service data, and additional education data to include attendance and exclusions—which are currently being analysed.

A social worker is now on board and is monitoring usage, they have also set up a weekly steering group to gain valuable feedback on the tool itself, any datasets required and any issues encountered.

July 2022

The project has a number of highlights to share from the last sprint, including:

  • the SharePoint site is now up and running, and this has been shared with relevant agencies
  • all but one locality team have now been set up and trained on using the Family Context tool
  • Matt (User Researcher) has devised an evaluation plan and questionnaires for social workers to complete, and the four responses they have received so far are already providing a new perspective

August 2022

The project team has been working with Sutton, Barnet, Bromley and Greenwich to scope out a pilot Family Context project in a London borough.

  1. As a system/tool that brings new data to LAs that have traditionally been difficult to get, such as Health and Police.

September 2022

The project team successfully established a partnership for data access with and Youth Offending Services (MoJ) and Education, to help enable social workers to make critical decisions. However, the data now requires cleaning. Lack of standards and interoperability has delayed API testing and set the project back by some months.

Stockport is also working on the Supporting Families pathway as a national programme. Supporting Families works to drive early help system transformation to ensure that every area has joined-up, efficient services, is able to identify families in need, and provides the right support. The deadline for data to be implemented for this programme is October 2022.

The data for both projects have similarities, so the team is hoping to work together and extract the data for the two projects at the same time.

October 2022

As the team aims to increase their access to centralised datasets, they faced an obstacle accessing Met Police Data for London project partners.

The ask of the Met Police is to provide any data relevant for a social worker to make an assessment of risk. The team currently have a data model of what’s needed at a minimum, although they acknowledge that each local authority may require different information to assess risk.

The Local Digital team has agreed to help the Social Finance delivery team by identifying contacts at the Met Police who lead on data governance, sit on the cross-London Safeguarding Panel, and coordinate the review of the MASH partnership.

Working with a DLUHC policy colleague, the team have made contact with the new Data Lead at the Metropolitan Police and have a meeting set for two weeks’ time.

November 2022

In a Show and Tell delivered on Monday 26 October, Project Lead Lindsey Yates presented great insights around how the product is meeting user needs. Lindsey’s recent focus has been enrolling additional Social Worker teams to start using the new version of the tool.

During the session, there was an interesting example provided by Leeds City Council on successful data sharing agreements with the West Midlands Police. John Medley-Hallam (Product Manager) talked about the role of social finance in this sector and the aim for a meeting with the Metropolitan Police to access critical data for the London project partners.