Survey of local authority integrated children’s systems
Survey of integrated children’s
Survey of integrated children’s systems Slide 1
The context of the survey
In spring 2018, Ofsted asked all local authorities (LAs) some questions about their integrated
children’s system (ICS).
Data on this area is rarely collected. We wanted to establish what systems LAs have, what they
cost, and what issues LAs have in getting and using data from those systems. This is to better
understand the challenges that LA face in this area of work.
The ICS, originating in the wake of the reports and legislation following Victoria Climbié’s death
in 2000, is a conceptual framework, a method of practice and a business process that supports
practitioners and managers in the tasks of assessment, planning, intervention and review of
children in need.
Such was the detail and complexity of the information needed, an electronic case record system
was specified to support it. These case record systems, which follow workflows – the sequential
way that social workers do their work – later became referred to as ICS databases, or ICS for
Survey of integrated children’s systems Slide 2
Responses to the survey
We asked all 152 LAs questions about:
the costs of ICSs
the software that they use to extract, analyse and report data
the challenges they faced with systems and reporting.
We received 79 responses (52% of all LAs). The responses came, in the main, from data,
analysis, performance and/or IT professionals.
There is no comprehensive data on ICSs in England to compare with and to establish
precisely the extent to which the results are representative of all LAs or of all ICSs.
Nonetheless, other information shows that at least one provider was not referenced in the
responses and that the market share of one of the companies was far greater than this
Survey of integrated children’s systems Slide 3
Main findings (1)
Extracting, reporting and analysing children’s social care data are not
This is true regardless of which ICS an LA uses.
The respondents stated that these issues hamper LAs’ work with vulnerable
There are difficulties even in the core work of providing statutory data to
The responses about costs were not clear enough to be able draw any
conclusions about how much is spent on buying and running the systems.
Survey of integrated children’s systems Slide 4
Main findings (2)
The main problem areas that LAs have are:
difficulty reporting data
need for considerable internal resource
a lack of expertise in social care data
issues with the suppliers
poor user experience
the functions of ICS processes and workflows.
Based on the survey results, two companies have a sizeable proportion of the
market: LiquidLogic and CoreLogic.
Most respondents (80%) stated that they were not intending to change to a
new system within six months of the survey.
Survey of integrated children’s systems Slide 5
Which ICSs do LAs use?
Survey of integrated children’s systems Slide 6
What are the main problems that LAs face?
Reporting: Almost three quarters of the LAs that responded said that they had difficulties
with reporting data. This included problems producing statutory (mandatory) reports for the
Department for Education (DfE). This impacts on the main data collections on children in
care and children in need.
Resourcing: Over two thirds of respondents highlighted resource issues. For example, staff
had to implement ‘workarounds’ and do extra work to make up for what the system could
Relationship with the supplier: Half of LAs that responded cited issues or difficulties with
the ICS supplier.
Poor user experience: Half of the LAs that responded mentioned negative experiences
using their ICS. They reported, for example, the consequences from a poorly implemented
system or the system not working as intended.
Processes and workflows: Workflows within ICSs are usually designed to mimic the
sequential order in which social workers carry out their work. However, two fifths of the LAs
that responded mentioned problems with how the databases were set up. In some cases,
even when systems were customised to local practice, they did not capture data well.
Survey of integrated children’s systems Slide 7
How reliable are the ICSs?
62 of 79 LAs reported at least one issue with their ICSs.
Survey of integrated children’s systems Slide 8
What sort of issues do LAs face?
Survey of integrated children’s systems Slide 9
Responses: data reporting
Survey of integrated children’s systems Slide 10
functions never work
and you cannot
usually confirm how
data is pulled and
(about Supplier 4)
The provider is
does not facilitate
(about Supplier 1)
The data validation from stat returns
(Cin/903) are not mirrored in ICS, so
workers can do things in the system
which cause errors in submission.
Supplier is not responsive enough
when issues arise e.g. report issues or
requests to amend reports not
resolved for months or years, resulting
in the LA having to create self work
arounds to extract data.
(about Supplier 5)
Responses: internal resource
Survey of integrated children’s systems Slide 11
It takes two staff around 15 working
days just to pull out all the data and
update the tables. Then another day for
all staff to QA the data. Then we issue
PDFs of all the scorecards in the last
week of the month. Social work heads
of service complain that is issued too
late for them to be proactive addressing
poor performance, but we have no
access to dashboard software to speed
the process up... Stat return required
significant amounts of additional SQL to
pull together and submit.
Data analysis skills
combined with business
knowledge are few and
far between and make all
the difference to
extracting and analysing
relevant useful data.
…combine this with our
limited business objects
skills and we often end up
doing data dumps in to
Excel and then trying to
create the information we
require from there!
Responses: relationships with suppliers
Survey of integrated children’s systems Slide 12
Currently have outstanding
reports query with supplier
that's taken them two years
to resolve and they still can't
promise it will be fixed prior
to year end.
Change requests can be
costly and can also take a
long time for
implementation. Often have
to wait for the next update
which can be six to 12
Supplier is not responsive
enough when issues arise,
e.g. report issues or
requests to amend reports
not resolved for months or
years, resulting in the LA
having to create self work-
arounds to extract data.
Functional change requests
are not actioned timely.
Responses: user experience
Survey of integrated children’s systems Slide 13
Users find it clunky
and often get
confused due to a lack
of a process led flow
through the system,
which leads to a lot of
data quality being
returns can be
Poor hardware, inadequate RAM
- hard drives regularly crash.
Reports have to be delivered via
the BO XI platform which is very
unpopular with social workers.
Very limited graphical capability.
No access to MicroS365, Tableau
on with other
functionality such as
working, etc. due to
system bugs or
Responses: ICS processes and workflows
Survey of integrated children’s systems Slide 14
The system also has no
inbuilt workflow to it and
therefore there is no
anticipation of the users’
needs or any enforcement
of how processes should
Prebuilt system workflows are
not always compatible with best
practice or evolving government
subsequent, frequent, system
configuration changes through a
shrinking resource envelope is
Doesn't currently meet the
needs of the service and it
restricts workers time with lots
The pathways are very good
in terms of tracking cases
and ensuring accurate
followed - however it can
cause many issues if
something is recorded wrong,
as the whole case has to be
rolled back and all recording
deleted and then re-input.
Adam King, Emily Moreton, Jean Mallo, Neil Powling,
and Judith Swindell.
Survey of integrated children’s systems Slide 15
Ofsted on the web and on social media
Survey of integrated children’s systems Slide 16