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Children's service teams take up new tablet app


Social workers from 10 councils are ready to adopt the My Three Houses App in line with the Signs of Safety framework

A group of local authorities have begun to equip social workers in children's services with a new tablet app, named My Three Houses, developed to comply with the Signs of Safety approach to child protection.

The councils have been working on the project with Resolutions Consultancy, the company which developed Signs of Safety in Western Australia and has supported its adoption in the UK following the 2011 Munro review of child protection, and software developer Inkubator.

Brent, Bristol, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Tower Hamlets, Wakefield, West Sussex and Wokingham have been involved in the app's development, which has been supported by a £4.7 million grant from the Department for Education under its Children's Social Care Innovation Programme.

Andrew Turnell, a partner at Resolutions Consultancy, told UKAuthority that most of the 10 councils involved in the development work have now instructed social workers to begin using the app, and that the company is working with more than 40 to implement the Signs of Safety Framework.

Risk reduction

He said there have been some concerns over security as the app is tablet rather than web based, but that the company is working with the councils to ensure the devices are secure, and emphasising it provides less risk that working with pen and paper.

A spokesperson for West Sussex County Council confirmed that it has been encouraging its children's services social workers to begin downloading the app over the past few days.

Peter Evans, the council's cabinet member for children and start of life, said: “Our social care practitioners have worked with families to test the design, which is much more interactive than previous tools, and we are looking forward to putting it into use.”

The concept behind My Three Houses was originally developed in New Zealand in the early 2000s, and involves social workers helping children to write, draw and speak about things that are worrying them. It includes a drawing pad, audio recording facility and animated videos for children to use.

A parent's section includes a consent form and introductory video with written transcripts, while the caseworker toolbox includes a Signs of Safety framework overview, a guide to working with parents and care givers, a library of customisable questions and prompts, a notes facility and a feature to export all drawings, notes and audio files.

It has been developed solely for use on tablet computers, with a design that is optimal for a 10 inch screen, regarded as the best size for the drawing feature. It has been made available in iOS and Android versions through iTunes and Google Play.

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