Salesforce, Squiz and EYC3 have been named by the NSW Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) as preferred suppliers to deliver its $100 million ChildStory project. The transformation aims to replace the agency’s existing ICT systems to create a modern and efficient child protection ICT “ecosystem” delivered on a Software-as-a-Service basis.
Cloud-based supplier Salesforce will provide the case management and contracting solution, “including ways to collaborate with our families and our partners”. This will underpin core agency functions such as child placement and financial management, and include a range of reporting, analytics, information management and client registry tools, according to the original ChildStory request for tender.
Specialist supplier Squiz has also been selected to deliver enterprise search technologies under the case management solution. Its main advanced search tool promises to deliver an integrated “dynamic interface” that combines website data, search history, geographic location and other analytics tools.
Analytics and enterprise intelligence supplier EYC3 has been selected to transition FACS’s existing family data onto the new ChildStory platform.
“ChildStory is a completely fresh way of upgrading technology to support our work,” according to FACS.
“Over the next three months, the ChildStory team will work with lead sites to develop implementation plans and the detailed design of the solution.”
The completed ChildStory system will also include mobile apps for caseworkers, web apps for clients and caseworkers, and collaboration and messaging tools, according to the RFT.
ChildStory was developed in response to ongoing issues with FACS’s existing IT systems, which were strongly criticised during a 2013 Parliamentary Inquiry for contributing to the agency’s failure to adequately manage more than 40,000 cases of at-risk children.
Its primary community services database, the Key Information and Directory System (KIDS), which was implemented in 2003, is long overdue for an upgrade.
Both a 2008 Special Commission of Inquiry and a 2011 Special Ombudsman’s Report recommended improvements to the system, with the Inquiry finding issues of poor data quality, system complexities and problematic design features that have made it cumbersome for caseworkers to use.
However, an upgrade was scrapped in 2012 after $12 million was spent, due to costs outweighing “what the department advised were limited benefits to Community Services of successful implementation”, according to Pru Goward, Family and Community Services Minister at the time.
ChildStory, a broader update of the agency’s ICT systems, was launched in late-2014 with the aim of replacing or enhancing caseworker systems that are at end-of-life, reducing administrative burdens on caseworkers and increasing their time spent with at-risk children, and improving collaboration and compliance with agency goals and directives.
The ChildStory project is part of FACS’s broader Safe Home for Life initiative to strengthen and modernise the state’s child protection system. It was funded for $500 million over four years from 2014.