ADCS president rejects Laming call for national ICS

The new president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, Kim Bromley-Derry, has rejected Lord Laming’s call to consider a national case management system for social workers.

Laming made the recommendation that the government undertake a feasibility study for a single national Integrated Children’s System as part of his review into child protection following the Baby P case in Haringey.

But Kim Bromley-Derry said such a move would backfire. Speaking at his inauguration he said: “It is right that professionals should have quality recording systems and share information effectively. The integrated children’s systems are not delivering for us. Some are working better than others. They are a barrier rather than an enabler to effective work.

“But experience of national IT systems is not good. The several years we would need for a national roll-out would repeat the teething problems of ICS locally but on a national scale.”

Bromley-Derry also expressed fears that work targeting five- to 13-year-olds would suffer most in the current economic climate. “Work for this age group is already being squeezed by the Children’s Fund going,” he said. “This age is a critical time to intervene and that is a group where the voluntary sector delivers.”

The new president called for a campaign to promote social work emulating the education profession’s “can you remember a teacher that made a difference to you” campaign. “The social work profession is feeling under siege. We need to celebrate the work we do,” he said.

Lord Laming also recommended considering the abolishment of court fees for care order applications, but Bromley-Derry said more research would have to be done before a decision could be made.

In his inaugural speech, Bromley-Derry outlined the ADCS’s four priorities during his one-year presidency as: safeguarding and wellbeing; reducing the impact of child poverty; the transfer of responsibility and funding for 16 to 19 education; and leadership and development for directors of children’s services and their senior teams.

He said that, post-Baby P, “children’s services has a higher profile in the media and are more open to public scutiny thay ever before.” But he warned that the children and young people’s workforce must stay focused on all five of the Every Child Matters outcomes and “not bundle our energies just into safeguarding”.