Low-code System Helping Thousands of Adopted Children

Government’s Adoption Support Fund rolled out for over 150 local authority use, thanks to alternative software development approach

Posted 23 January 2017 by Gary Flood

Many adopted children struggle to adapt after suffering trauma, loss or neglect before their adoption, say experts – which is why the Department for Education (DfE) set up its special Adoption Support Fund (ASF), a £19.m scheme now digitally enabled for full national access.

The ASF provides a way for adopted children and their families to get the therapy they need, says the government, with its central aim to make life easier for adoptive families and to support adopted children to realise their potential, and not be held back by their traumatic pasts.

In early 2015, after a successful trial with 13 local authorities, DfE decided to expand the fund across England, but found the manual processes involved were too intensive.

Fearing the process would not scale to meet the needs of the target 152 authorities it wanted to use the ASF resource, DfE looked for a better, automated way to deliver the Fund. However, initial estimates using a traditional application development approach were deemed too lengthy, and suggested a need for additional staff to administer submissions while the build took place.

An alternate approach – ‘Low-code*’ – was instead chosen, with engineering, management and development consultancy Mott MacDonald winning the bid.

Working with MATS, a Low-code platform from supplier MatsSoft, application builders at Mott MacDonald used Low-code to configure a prototype in just two weeks, that was then refined over an additional four weeks of user testing, workshops and feedback.

Which means that in just six weeks, the Low-code alternative had delivered a national IT solution to all the target authorities, on time, on budget – and with all features requested by the ASF team, without having to hire additional administration staff for the rollout.

It’s estimated that some 5,300 families have been directly helped by the ASF its first full year, with the solution already been extended to process Special Guardianship Order applications.

Stakeholders say the ASF can also better monitor adoption and provide targeted help where it’s needed, with one adoptive parent noting, “The ASF has enabled our son to access therapy that wouldn’t otherwise have been possible.”

* Low-code is the preferred rendition of the name for this class of software development, according to analysts