Laming review finds child care hampered by IT

The Integrated Children's System (ICS) project is hampering social workers' efforts and should be replaced by a single national IT system, according to Lord Laming's report into child protection in England .

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The Integrated Children's System (ICS) project, intended to allow child welfare professionals teams to work together, is hampering social workers' efforts and should be replaced by a single national IT system, according to Lord Laming's report into child protection in England .

The government-commissioned review has found that ICS systems are counter-productive in many case and called for a step change in the social work profession, including an IT overhaul, in light of the Baby P case .

"Practitioners and managers are committed to the principle of an electronic system and have no desire to return to paper-based case management," the review read.

"However, the current state of the technology – particularly the local IT systems that support the use of the Integrated Children’s System (ICS) – is hampering progress and judgement."

Social workers efforts are being compromised by an "over-complicated, lengthy and tick-box assessment and recording system". This leaves social workers spending too much time inputting information into defective computer systems, endangering the time in direct contact with children and families.

Among the 58 recommendations in the report, Laming called on the government to create a more efficient national IT system that would log essential information about children at risk. This would be in addition to the ContactPoint system for keeping track of children whose families change address.

"There is no single national IT system that delivers the ICS requirements. Some areas have access to systems that support practice, but there is wide variation from area to area in the time staff spend inputting information into the ICS," said the report.

The report also called for a local dedicated IT team who understand the needs of the children’s service and who can broker this with the developers of the system. Stronger IT leadership is also needed centrally to support those that did not, the report says.