Children in care data visualisation tool launches

Coram is among organisations involved in developing the interactive tool that aims to make it easier for councils to improve support for looked after children.

Joe Lepper | 10th Dec 18
Image shows child looking at chalk on the ground.

A charity is helping develop an interactive data visualisation tool to improve the way councils analyse data to support children in care.

Children’s charity Coram has been involved in developing the tool which will give councils a better insight into where improvements in support need to be made and how best to tackle issues such as delays in the care system.

It tracks children’s journey through the care system, from when they are first referred to councils. The tool then takes the data to create an interactive visualisation.

Dots are used to demonstrate the child’s movement and support within care, which can highlight congested areas where improvement is needed. Colour coding to show the length of time a child is in the care system is also included.

“We thought the time was ripe to create a new kind of dialogue between data scientists, children’s services managers and academic experts to see how we can use 21st century advances in data visualisation to understand how we respond to children and to provide better care and support for those in need of help,” said Renuka Jeyarajah Dent, Coram’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer.

Also involved in its development is the Alan Turing Institute and the University of Oxford’s Rees Centre. Funding has been provided by the Nuffield Foundation.

An early prototype has been developed with Kent County Council and the Alan Turing Institute.

Image showing Coram's new data visualisation tool
Image credit: Coram

Making data more accessible

Sarah Hammond, Integrated Children’s Services Director at the council says that the visualisation tool helps make the wide range of data available about children’s social care more accessible.

“The challenge for senior managers in children’s social care, especially in local authorities as big as Kent, is that it can be very difficult to swiftly respond to what data is telling us about children’s experience,” said Hammond.

“We collect a wealth of data and we use it as well as we can. We believe that making this data more accessible to those of us making decisions on behalf of children will allow us to more effectively visualise children’s journeys through our services.

“In turn this will help us sift through what really matters and when for the children we seek to serve.”

A Coram spokeswoman added that the charity is hoping councils across England will use the visualisation tool to support their local children and also merge data to “get an idea of the picture nationally” of support for children in care.