Dave Pether 30 September 2019

A vision for transparency

Something as simple as a connected view of the interactions a young person has with different local authority services can have an immeasurable impact – in some cases it could be life changing, or even life-saving.

Greater integration and data sharing between local authorities and departments within them through Information Sharing Protocols and specific statutory legislation is pivotal in securing the best possible outcomes for young peoples’ futures. However, even in this digitised age, it is still a mammoth task.

Today’s young people are increasingly mobile. There are more than 150,000 young people aged 13 to 19 in the West London area which my team and I work across, often moving from one borough, home or school, to another, accessing different services along the way. It can be confusing. Our guidelines are when a young person is in compulsory education, the authority responsible for them is where their school lies. Once they leave school – whether going on to attend college, do an apprenticeship or otherwise - it becomes the authority where they live.

It’s easy to see how this could lead to fragmented records across boroughs, and potentially missed opportunities for interventions. Social work teams and support departments within local authorities are in some cases still relying on legacy tech systems which can’t talk to one another or provide the whole information record when it comes to each young person. So how can technology help overcome these challenges to enable better outcomes for young people?

As a team, alongside other London colleagues, we sat down a decade ago to focus on how we could deliver transparency from borough to borough - pioneering a fully integrated approach. Our vision was to provide the full picture for every young person. We knew that this was needed not just in the seven London boroughs overseen by the West London Partnership Support Unit, but across the entire capital.

The development of LCCIS (London Client Caseload Information System), a bespoke software solution we have deployed in partnership with Servelec as part of its Core+ youth services offering, has completely transformed how data is shared across the city.

Sitting above the five regions – West, East, North, South and Central – which all use the Core+ solution, LCCIS brings London’s boroughs together, enabling seamless data sharing and information exchange. A single umbrella database that sits above the five Core+ systems, it pulls data from each and provides a method for each area to view a young person’s information on the other Core+ systems if applicable. The continual sharing of data means the system is always up to date and the benefits are not only being felt in London but beyond in its surrounding counties.

While all London boroughs are subscribed to Servelec’s Core+ youth services solution, Ealing additionally deploys its Youth Justice module, which is a fully secure and integrated component of the Core+ solution. We recently added the Re-offending Toolkit to the Youth Justice module – which is proving to be of great use at monthly multi-discipline team meetings between the police, youth justice service officers and my team. The toolkit’s algorithms provide us with a means of monitoring those young people who are at a higher risk of re-offending – and we can look at making provision to nurture their interests in a more positive way.

LCCIS has vastly improved NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) and Not Known tracking for the entire capital. It can be used in multiple ways – from processes which flag if the data doesn’t match an existing record so a young person can be added, to ensuring the latest updates are added to a young person’s file without any duplication. We were able to agree the data fields with all London groups so we can accurately track and report on our youth population.

Beyond tracking and reporting, the real impact is of course on the young people themselves. With the facility to data share - which means we can connect with the full spectrum of departments or facilities from social care to schools in any region - we are able to pinpoint specific young people who might require support but could otherwise slip through the net as they move from borough to borough. This valuable information can be put in the hands of professionals so they can identify and take the necessary action. Making greater integration and data sharing a reality through the deployment of technology solutions not only allows us to accurately report on the full cohort of young people in London, but helps us play a vital role in changing young people’s lives for the better.

Dave Pether is information systems and policy manager at the West London Partnership Support Unit

This feature first appeared in Local Government News magazine. Register here for your own free copy.

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