Technology in Children’s Services: Special Report


From virtual reality for practitioners to the use of big data systems to share information between agencies, technology is changing the way children’s services intervenes in the lives of vulnerable children and families.

Technology is increasingly changing the nature of children’s services. Picture: SFIO CRACHO/Adobe Stock
Technology is increasingly changing the nature of children’s services. Picture: SFIO CRACHO/Adobe Stock

It is now standard practice for children’s services leaders and practitioners to use technology to enhance support for vulnerable children, young people and families.

Whether it be electronic systems to record information and share that with other agencies, software to analyse trends in the use of services and the impact they are having, or mobile applications that enable better communication between worker and young person, technology is increasingly changing the nature of children’s services.

It is an integral part of many aspects of children’s services provision from safeguarding, information sharing between agencies or using virtual reality headsets for practitioners to experience what life is like for a neglected child.

Despite this, latest research suggests training for children’s social workers is failing to prepare them for utilising technology to its best effect, while experts say that policymakers should do more to ensure practitioners have the knowledge and skills to use tech-based solutions to improve the care of vulnerable children.

Meanwhile, research has highlighted ethical concerns around machine learning – now widely used by local authorities to identify children and families at most risk – which could act as a warning for commissioners and leaders to use technology appropriately.

CYP Now’s special report on technology in children’s services assesses latest research on the use of technology to support vulnerable children and families, a summary of key policy drivers and issues, and three examples of innovative tech-based interventions.

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Research evidence:

Practice examples:

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