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Stockton turns to analytics to support families

01/09/16

Council implements system to provide social services staff with reports and dashboards to minimise risks to children

Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council is implementing data analytics software in an effort to better support its younger residents.

FamilyThe council is in the early stages of using the One Analytics package from Capita One, supported by analytics specialist Tableau, to support its Early Help programme with plans to extend it to wider use.

 “We want to enhance our existing reporting technologies to provide more meaningful data to our support services - which will offer improvements within the services themselves, as well as to the support delivered to children and families,” Helen Ruddick, who works in the business support and information team at the council, told UKAuthority.

Outcomes of such analysis could include how looked-after children are progressing in school when compared with their peers, allow social services to flag families at risk of getting into trouble and identifying families who are not engaging with services such as early years’ provision.

As a result, users will be able to better interact with data and spot patterns via visual analysis, as well as exploit geographical data tools that will highlight problem ‘hotspots’ for issues like truancy and anti-social behaviour. 

Dynamic support

“We would also like service managers and users to be getting dynamic, interactive data instantly, thus supporting the decision-making processes and services we offer,” Ruddick added.

She is part of an initiative to do all this by bringing together information held within different databases, such as those used by staff delivering early help and educational support to the young people of the borough.

It will be fed a range of data inputs, from school admissions, attendance and special educational needs information, said Ruddick, with its output then delivered across “all relevant support services”.

The aim is to help three levels of council staff – the technical user, those who only need to see a subset of the results on a daily basis, and those who might need to work with the information on a more frequent basis.

She and her team will be supporting the first group to develop reports and dashboards to be held within Stockton’s business support and information service, assisting in their roll out to the second group, and aiding the final group in their self-service use of the tool’s web reporting front end.

 “One Analytics is a very easy-to-use system, so users do not need to have much knowledge of the technology to be able to glean meaningful information from it,” she pointed out.

Sensitivity and security

The security of sensitive data is protected, as the system allows permissions to be set relating to what data can and cannot be seen.

“All data is contained within our network and is covered by all of our standard data protection and privacy policies and procedures,” Ruddick said.

The next few months will see a full roll out to all education and young peoples’ services the council supports, and an increase in the number of people using it on a self-serve basis.

Martin Gray, head of Early Help partnership and planning, said: “There is a broad focus being placed on early help in the authority, and the new software will be crucial for supporting the work we are doing. 

“To uncover the families we want to work with, our staff would have to spend many hours cross-checking data manually, which is incredibly labour-intensive. Using One Analytics will help us to flag families that might be just under the radar much more quickly, so we can provide the help they need sooner.

“The software will also be crucial in helping us to use our data to spot trends and pinpoint local hotspots of vulnerability, so we can prevent families at risk from becoming families in crisis.”

Image by Kat Grigg, CC BY 2.0  through flickr

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