In summer 2018 I started working with Stockport’s fostering team (part of Stockport Family, the council’s integrated service for children, young people and families.) Fostering was picked as a priority area to tackle because the number of looked after children was increasing at a greater rate than foster carers were being recruited, and unlike most other services, people made the choice to council with Stockport Council (rather than with other independent agencies). Since becoming a foster carer is a long and emotional journey, this project required an in depth discovery phase and a holistic service re-design approach.
My role in this project was to lead this approach, and to work with a business analyst, UX designer, content designer, product owner and the fostering team to improve the user journey both for staff and for (potential) foster carers.
The solutions that made it through from ideation and several rounds of user testing into implementation were:
- Re-design of the web-pages – drawing people in and supporting them to take action
- Simplification of the online enquiry form – making first contact casual and easy
- Refreshed format of open evenings (information events for people interested in fostering) – getting people invested in the journey
- A new Case Management System – helping the fostering team provide a great service
- A new fostering area in ‘My Account’ (the councils online portal which enables users to submit and view information) – making the application process more modern and transparent
Because of the scale of this project and the nature of the user journey (can take several months), it is yet too early to demonstrate any definite impact. However, the current trend of the number of foster carers recruited per year is above the target of 20.
“Working with the digital team has been a challenge and a pleasure. ‘2 worlds collide’ springs to mind. Having developed a common language I have been amazed at how quickly the DbD (Digital By Design) team have gained an in-depth understanding of the fostering task and the challenges we face in recruitment.” – Fostering service lead
You can watch a video with two foster carers giving their feedback about the user testing process here.
I have written various blog posts about this project on the #DigitalStockport blog:
– Gaining insights into the fostering journey
– Re-designing the way we recruit foster carers part 1
– Re-designing the way we recruit foster carers part 2