Guest post by Malcolm Megaw from BSO
The aspiration for the MIDAS project in Northern Ireland is to develop a tool that can provide analysis and insight into a uniquely created dataset, combining information on children in need, children in care, children on the child protection register, contact with hospitals (inpatients, outpatients, and emergency) and certain pharmacy prescriptions. Core to the work is examining how the information can be used to better inform against the Corporate Parenting role the state has for children and young people in care.
The number of children in care may be small compared to the high volume services that are ongoing in other areas but they are highly impactful on individuals who may have their entire lives changed. This group of vulnerable people has been recognised as a high priority area as indicated by a specific performance measure in the Northern Ireland Programme for Government initiative.
Information on children in care and those on the child protection register is largely collected via the regional SOSCARE system. This system is very dated and a programme to replace it with newer IT solutions is underway. Unfortunately, newer solutions do not fall within the scope of this project as warehousing of their data has not yet been undertaken.
Using an honest broker mechanism to join data in a safe environment, data from the above mentioned sources has been brought together in an anonymous and relational dataset. The honest broker mechanism allows data of this type to be analysed via researchers in a safe space – where all outputs are screened before being released to ensure no disclosure issues occur. In this instance, it is anticipated that the analysis tool will have inbuilt disclosure prevention algorithms.
Ideally, the tool will allow us to extract information that identifies predictive variables for cohorts of children’s journey through care system – to better target resources and maximise children’s safety.