Family Context (Alpha)


  1. Project outputs
  2. Project timeline
  3. Feedback

The previous discovery had shown that front line workers in Early Help and Social Work need access to information on a child’s family, particularly what contact they’ve had with support services (e.g. social care, housing, youth justice) to make informed decisions on what support to offer and to assess safeguarding risk.

In alpha, this project aimed to build a prototype that gives workers this view, with contact details for the lead professional in each, so they rapidly know who to contact.

Project outputs

All Local Digital Fund alpha projects were asked to provide the following information at completion:

  • User research report
  • Benefits case
  • A user experience demo or design pattern, a data model or a set of instructions
  • Recommendations for next steps


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Project timeline

December 2018 - alpha

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

May 2019 - alpha

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

September 2019 - beta

MHCLG awards £350,000 for ‘Family context in children’s services’ beta from the Local Digital Fund.

February 2020 - beta

Project team continue delivering the project and producing agreed outputs.


Each project was assessed using these lenses by the Local Digital Collaboration Unit. We have provided feedback directly to the project teams and this is a summary of what we shared with them.

It aims to be constructive for both the project team and any other organisation wishing to learn about the project or make use of the work done.

  • The project team detailed areas for further alpha investigation and extended their alpha activity to incorporate this, providing a useful view of what is not included within these outputs.
  • The project team undertook a design sprint as part of their alpha activities. This enabled the team to work in a multidisciplinary way to deliver a number of prototypes with colleagues from Social Care teams and Leeds City Council. The team should consider keeping a detailed record of prototype testing to demonstrate how it has evolved based on user research. This would provide a strong foundation to evidence how changes have been made based on user needs.
  • The project team undertook prototype testing with users in real ‘live’ cases utilising a non-automated method to gather information for the prototype. The rich information collected through this activity enabled the team to prioritise data sources for a minimum viable product at beta stage. The team should consider working in the open to share learnings about this kind of testing, including how they organised real ‘live’ cases, the methodology used, any problems they encountered and their findings, as this is likely to provide a useful reference for other local authorities.
  • The project team prioritised user needs over technical investigation at alpha stage. Their findings about which data sources are most useful to social workers is likely to be of interest to other local authorities. The project team should consider building a more in-depth understanding of the infrastructure in use nationally to demonstrate confidence that this work is both scalable and feasible.
  • The team started to design address matching algorithms. They should consider whether address based matching is the most suitable way of identifying family members, addressing any difficulties of matching this data and of data held being out of date.
  • The project team built their benefits case using a range of sources and applied a conservative optimism bias of 60% based on Treasury Green Book guidelines. This is an approach that other local authorities should follow.