Headlines: March 29th, 2007



Social services staff working with children are to get improved access to mobile Information and Communication Technology to help them adapt to new ways of working and to keep in step with technological developments. A total of 13 million pounds is to be allocated to local authorities.

The announcement of the extra funding is the result of the Options for Excellence review, being undertaken by the Department for Education and Skills and the Department of Health to tackle problems in the children’s social care sector and to inform short and medium term policy developments relating to the workforce. It has highlighted a need for extra money for communications technology.

The funding is designed to enable social workers to adopt new working methods and to keep up with advances in technology, which are already having an impact on the social care sector. Specifically the new capital grant will help local authorities invest in the latest in mobile ICT, including laptops and Personal Digital Assistants. The money will be allocated to councils in line with the children’s formula and will be weighted according to population and other factors. Directors of Children’s Services will receive guidance on spending in the next few days, to coincide with the publication of the Children’s Workforce Strategy Update.

Children’s Minister Parmjit Dhanda said giving social workers mobile technology would lead to significant time savings, allowing them to be more flexible and ultimately to spend more time having face to face meetings with the people they were there to support, society’s most vulnerable children. “Our vision for a modern, integrated social care workforce was set out in Every Child Matters, this 13 million pounds grant will help the sector to continue adopting new and better ways of working,” he added.

Conditions attached to the grant mean any mobile devices to be bought for use by social workers will have to have appropriate security capabilities and staff must be trained to address this issue. Uploading and downloading case information will be subject to physical and programme security requirements appropriate to the data concerned.