Caseworkers criticise NSW ChildStory IT platform

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Caseworkers criticise NSW ChildStory IT platform

Claim system is failing.

Caseworkers using the NSW Department of Families and Community Services' new ChildStory child protection IT platform have reported critical problems with the system just days after it went live.

The integrated Salesforce platform replaces the state’s child protection out-of-home-care system, known as the key information and directory system (KiDS).

Development began in June 2016, with the expectation that the system’s first release would go live from March this year.

But issues with the platform’s stability and a complex data migration pushed the platform’s first release back by eight months, and in the process put the project $28 million in the red.

It went live for caseworkers last week, and is expected to become accessible for NGOs, children, families, carers and FACS contacts and payments staff in May next year.

However, just days after the system went live, the Public Service Association claims it has been “inundated with complaints” from caseworkers who say the system “is not up to handling the complex work they perform”.

The issues include the loss of, or failure to save, records of interactions of caseworkers with children and families, and approvals for work being sent to managers who are deceased or have left the department.

The problems have also caused a number of flow-on effects, including an overloaded child protection helpline as staff turn to it to record reports of children at risk.

PSA assistant general secretary Troy Wright said the system issues were putting vulnerable children at risk during the particularly demanding Christmas period.

“We are now receiving regular reports the frustrations with this system are reducing already-overburdened caseworkers to tears,” he said.

“Even worse, we have grave concerns that reports regarding children at risk will be lost or unable to be recorded during the festive season, which is traditionally a demanding time upon the system.”

A FACS spokesperson confirmed to iTnews that the introduction of the new system had resulted in a "short-term increase in wait times for the helpline”.

“To address this, we are periodically increasing the number of helpline staff, and continuing a strategy of triage to ensure urgent matters are prioritised,” the spokesperson said.

“In the long term, we are recruiting for the helpline so that calls are answered sooner and mandatory reporters get more support.”

The PSA had previously warned the department and FACS minister Pru Goward that the system was not ready for rollout.

But FACS secretary Michael Coutts-Trotter gave the go-ahead last month, after initially putting the department on notice to resolve the issues or further push back the rollout.

However, the department had also stressed that it was not prepared to delay the go-live beyond Christmas, and that no further changes would be made to system for the first release.

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