Families, Communities and Disability Services Minister, Gareth Ward, has sent a resounding message to ACWA members that transforming the state’s ChildStory IT system to better meet the needs of Permanency Support Program (PSP) providers, remains a top priority for him and his Department.
Speaking to a packed room of members in August, Minister Ward emphasised his commitment to ongoing dialogue with the non-government sector, to ensure that enhancements being made to ChildStory, will produce reliable and efficient outcomes that will enable agencies to deliver quality support and services to vulnerable children, young people, their carers and families.
“For me, getting this right is really important,” Minister Ward said.
“I want to genuinely ensure that if there are flaws in the system, if there are things that we can do better, that we do those things better.”
The Minister’s resolve was echoed by Deputy Secretary Simone Walker, and other senior Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) representatives, who were on hand to provide a high level overview of the work that is being done to improve functionality and the quality of data within ChildStory. Their PowerPoint presentation provides a snapshot of what is changing in ChildStory, as well as what the changes mean for PSP providers, and details of proposed training strategy. The attached Table contains responses to specific ChildStory concerns that were raised when members met with Minister Ward earlier in the year.
There was acknowledgement from the DCJ representatives that ChildStory has experienced its fair share of “ups and downs” since going live in 2017, and that Funded Service Providers (FSPs) have been adversely impacted as a consequence. However, they assured members that significant gains are being made to resolve these issues, including correcting inaccurate data within the system. Members were also advised that the current payment reconciliation being conducted by DCJ for services delivered by FSPs during the 2018-2019 financial year is on track to be completed in December.
During the discussion, the DCJ representatives clearly affirmed that members can be confident the Department is working hard to ensure that the end product will be one that supports practitioners, across both the government and non-government sectors, to provide the services that children, young people, families and carers need and deserve. They also emphasised the importance of FSPs working collaboratively with their Department counterparts at district level to achieve effective local solutions to local issues.
The meeting ended with participants agreeing that the establishment of a strong channel of regular communication between the Department and member agencies remains critical as the next phases of ChildStory are implemented, and as usage expands across the sector.
At the meeting, it was agreed that a Joint PSP Reform Taskforce would be established between DCJ and the sector, to work together to address joint implementation issues and areas of priority.