Database finds places for kids

Westminster Council hopes that finding child care placements for children and young people will be made easier by a new database,...

Westminster Council hopes that finding child care placements for children and young people will be made easier by a new database, which is designed to improve the way IT is used by its social services department, writes Chris Druce.

A new database system will help Westminster Council's social services allocate child care placements

There are about 300 children and young people in council care at any one time in Westminster, and the council needed to improve the standard of IT being used to find them child care placements. The social services team was having difficulty managing the large quantity of information regarding those needing placements, as the existing database, although adequate, was not particularly user-friendly and was becoming increasingly difficult to develop.

"We were looking for a database technology which would have better support and provide a stable base for future development," explains Damon Prizeman, project manager at Westminster Council.

The new database, developed by software and services provider Oxford Computer Consultants (OCC), was designed using Microsoft Access and is equipped with a search-engine to allow social services personnel to access and update relevant information quickly and securely.

Navigation around the system is designed to be as straightforward as possible to minimise the need for staff training. OCC says the database is easy to use and leads the user intuitively through the system.

Having looked at the requirements of another social services department before developing the system, OCC says it has created database technology that is suited to the needs of the team at Westminster Council.

"The repeat business with Westminster Council has given us an insight into the requirements of local authorities. This will stand us in good stead as we expand our work within the sector," says John Boyle, director at OCC.

OCC had previously developed software for a Westminster Council housing project which caters for asylum seekers looking for accommodation .

Project benefits

  • Allows available resources to be pinpointed quickly

  • Simple navigation through the system means minimal retraining

  • Search engine enables social services teams to update information such as case notes quickly and securely

  • Minimum disruption on installation of new software

  • Greater flexibility throughout council IT systems.

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