MOMO is recruiting. Are you our new Operations Manager?

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Are you an experienced Operations Manager looking for a new challenge? Do you want to work for a multi-award winning social tech company and make a positive impact on society?

Come and join MOMO, a growing business in the tech for social good sector. We have taken our app for young people and children’s services from MVP to a sustainable business and we’re continuing to grow. Now we need to increase capacity further and ensure MOMO continues to achieve social impact, meet customer expectations and expand its commercial base.

You will be looking to join a young ambitious company where you can use your initiative, develop your skills and be part of a high performing team.


Job Title: Operations Manager

Contract: Permanent

Based in: Flexible (UK only)

Hours: Full time

Salary: £45k

Key responsibilities

Oversee day to day management of MOMO’s business operations

Hold operational responsibility for growth

Transform strategic plans into operational deliverables

Lead and inspire the MOMO team to build increased customer and end user success, maximising social impact and commercial opportunities

Closing date

5pm, Sunday, November 20th 2016

We will be holding interviews in London on December 6th 2016


Download full application details here.



MOMO is recruiting. Are you our new Account Manager?


Are you an experienced Account Manager looking for a new challenge? Do you want to work for a multi-award winning tech startup and make a positive impact on society?

Come and join MOMO, a growing business in the tech for social good sector. We have taken our app for young people and children’s services from MVP to a sustainable business and we’re now scaling, with a need to increase capacity and ensure MOMO continues to support customer success.

You will be looking to join a young ambitious company where you can use your initiative, develop your skills and be part of a high performing team.


Job Title: Account Manager

Contract: Permanent

Based in: Flexible (UK only)

Hours: Full time

Salary: circa £30,000

Key responsibilities

Support local authority children’s services and their social work staff to implement MOMO and achieve best possible results

Monitor performance of MOMO in customer areas and analyse patterns of use

Feed performance metrics and the learning gained from your relationships with customers into the continuous development of MOMO

Support children’s services to involve young people in training and transformation plans, and in using the MOMO app.

Closing date

5pm, Sunday, October 16th 2016

Interviews: Monday, October 24th, London


Download full details here.



Real users, real testing – introducing MOMO Express

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Children and young people in Havering have been testing the first MOMO Express prototype.

MOMO Express?

MOMO Express is the new name for the (in-development) version of MOMO for children and young people with learning disabilities and replaces the working title of ‘MOTO’. This article is a glimpse into what the MOMO Express prototype is trying to achieve, and more importantly, what we found out from testing it.

Testing, not creating

Last time, at the co-creation session in Tyneside, the young people took part in creative “Let’s imagine…” and “If you were using an app…” hypothetically based exercises. This time, however, was very different with each ‘tester’ given the prototype to try on an iPad with their parent or a worker.

The prototype tried to achieve several objectives, each one also being a success criteria to measure against:

  • Users are able to easily navigate through the prototype
  • Interactions are intuitive
  • Users are able to engage with the content
  • Content structure is useful for workers
  • Content and interactions are accessible
  • Users are able to understand and respond to the activities
  • The app concept can be successfully co-used (by a child and their worker together)

Low fidelity prototype

The prototype itself was deliberately low fidelity in nature. Prototyping in this way minimises the amount of technical development required while maximising the potential for learning about user needs and behaviours before a line of code is written.

MOMO Express prototype testing

Screenshots of the prototype. No visual design has been applied.

Short co-use sessions

Each young person took part in a 20 minute session accompanied by an adult. In order to replicate a co-use situation they were asked to use the prototype together. The sessions generated lots of learning, including:

  • Most participants seemed interested in the device itself
  • Participants seemed to engage well with different types of activities in the prototype.
  • Too many visual elements on one screen can be confusing
  • Co-using the prototype with an adult stimulated conversation about the prototype’s questions
  • Young people engaged better with visual cues that they could relate to (e.g. images of daily activities)
  • Not all tablet interactions are user friendly. We still have more to learn about what works well, is intuitive and user friendly.
  • In a co-use scenario, it helps if an adult encourages the young person to respond rather than responding on their behalf so that the child is able to be more honest (e.g. telling the young person to ‘take their time’ rather than suggesting a response)

The Alpha is coming…

Team MOMO is now turning the prototype into an ‘alpha’ version of MOMO Express while at the same time the children’s illustrator Tim Bradford is creating some of its visual design. Next month we’ll be back in Havering testing the alpha with more young people.

Stay tuned for more MOMO Express updates in the run up to launch at the end of the year. Request a MOMO Express info pack here.

Manjul Rathee, Service Designer at MOMO

Co-creating with children with learning disabilities

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The MOTO creation process is gathering pace.

Last week we partnered with Foxden Quarriers in South Shields to run a fun and interactive co-creation session with young people, their parents and professionals. The day was a huge success with everyone participating in activities such as storytelling, before using tools to bring the stories to life and then competing to win challenges. 

The top 3 things we wanted to find out more about were:

  • the types of content that young people with learning disabilities find most engaging
  • how and when to ask both open and close ended questions
  • what kinds of mechanics they find intuitive and easiest to respond to

Quarriers and MOMO folk

The day was incredibly fun!

Here are our 6 top learnings:

  1. Most young people at the session didn’t engage with children’s magazines such as The week junior, First news, or The Simpsons – but they did engage with emoji stickers
  2. However, not all emoji stickers are clearly understood. For example, happy and sad faces were better understood than others like smiley face on poo pile, hi fives etc. This could be because some emojis are more abstract than others and some visual design is inaccessible.
  3. The young people attending demonstrated attention spans of 10 – 15 minutes
  4. Young people were heavily reliant on adult support to pursue activites
  5. The challenge – rewards aspects of the day were received very well
  6. A sense of pride prevailed over what the young people had created

Afterwards we took our learnings from the day into an internal ideation session and got busy creating the first MOTO prototype. We’re now off to test it with young people and staff in Havering.

Stay tuned to know more about our activities in the run up to launch at the end of the year. Request a MOTO info pack here.

by Manjul Rathee, Service Designer at MOMO

Communicating without words – the start of a new MOMO

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Team MOMO has been busy travelling the country to find out more about the communication challenges faced by young people with learning difficulties, and how they are being overcome. We’re doing this as part of the design process that will lead to a new version of MOMO for them (working title: MOTO!).

Learning difficulties affect people differently, leading to a variety of individual needs and a range of different solutions. From hi-tech gadgets and communication apps to using sign language, there’s a lot of options out there, some of which are more accessible than others.

How can we bridge the communication gap?

At a recent visit to a short breaks unit in St Austell, Cornwall we found out lots about how young people with learning disabilities hang out and communicate with each other, and how they inform adults about how to best communicate with them.

While different young people use different tools and aids, the unifying thread is the role that visuals play. 


From photos of objects to symbols and illustrations of sign language – each system relies on being able to convey a word’s meaning in a pictorial format. When one thinks of cave paintings, hieroglyphs and other languages that are based on pictorial representations of words, it becomes clear that at the bottom of a lot of human communication is visual representation of a message.

Systems are usually differentiated in 3 ways: structure, design and user centredness (e.g. when sound is added to make it easier to understand). However, what works for one child with learning disabilities may not work for another child even when they seem similar in nature.

“Different symbols mean different things to different people.”

Bridget Drew-Spyer, Project Manager at Quarriers, South Tyneside

So if each child is different how can we develop tools and systems that work for as many as possible? We’re exploring 3 key steps to developing a user centred communication system:

  1. Understand the abilities of an individual (not just the limitations) – this helps develop ways of communicating that can keep evolving as their capacity grows.
  2. Identify and use individual motivators – what motivates a child to use a particular system will vary. By identifying common motivators you can select or design a system that they like and feel comfortable using.
  3. Get creative – look beyond the obvious solutions to create what works best for an individual. This isn’t necessarily about services or interventions, but about thinking outside the box.

Getting outside the box is what we’re doing as we develop MOTO. It goes live in December. Request an info pack here.

by Manjul Rathee, Service Designer at MOMO

MOMO Wins The Observer’s New Radicals Award for Social Innovation

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We’re incredibly proud to announce that The Observer and Nesta have selected MOMO as one its New Radicals for 2016.

New Radicals is a search led by Nesta, the UK’s innovation foundation, and The Observer to find the top people, projects and organisations offering innovative ways to tackle social challenges. It was launched in 2012 was run again in 2014, and again in 2016.

By winning MOMO has entered illustrious company. Thankyou to all our users and customers for making this possible.

Read about the awards here and see the full list here.


New Radicals pic

New Radicals Reception, July 2016

Joe and Yvonne at the New Radicals reception

Joe and Yvonne at the New Radicals reception

New Radical cakess

MOMO is a Gift

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This article is brought to you by the MOMO community via MOMOCon 2016.

…You’re about to give your social workers a gift.

It’s called MOMO. It’s a gift to your young people too. But this blog isn’t about that.

It’s about how you can help your social workers make the most of their gift.

small box momo

Why is it a gift for social workers?

This is ABC simple.

It saves them time – no need to write up notes on child’s views

It makes decision making easier – because they know more about their young people’s views wishes and feelings

It helps them keep their children safe – because it’s a safety net the child can use to raise problems anytime they need

And did we mention that by evidencing childrens’ views it improves the quality of social work case recording?

Here’s how to help your workers make the most of MOMO.

Leverage your leaders

Because your social workers need leading and clear expectation setting

You need senior management to set expectations and hold your teams accountable for introducing MOMO and using it to gather childrens’ views. How will your senior management command each team’s attention? How will they offer support and inspire action?

IROs and CP Chairs are accountable for childrens’ views being heard at review and conferences. So get them on board. Whether or not they are visiting children before the meeting they should be checking if the child’s views have been gathered and challenging where they haven’t been.

You might want to:

  • Send all staff a clear letter of expectation from your director
  • Add MOMO to SMT agendas
  • Talk to your IROs about what to expect from themselves and social workers

Before you begin

So that workers are ready for your gift

Have a clear implementation plan. MOMO offers free help with this.

Build up awareness. MOMO is coming. Even if people aren’t yet sure what to expect, make sure they know its on the way.

Remember that the real work of driving change happens after launch. It’s not a one-time activity.

You might want to:

  • Ask MOMO for more help with your implementation plan – ask for our latest implementation planning template
  • Use or customise ‘MOMO is coming‘ info for staff
  • Decide if you will focus more on a smaller number of workers or teams or implement it across several teams at once
  • Plan how you will follow up and support your teams after you go live

Targets are cool

Because they help people know what they are trying to achieve with this gift

Discuss your expectations of MOMO and set some targets and expectations for your staff. Otherwise how can you measure your progress in implementing it into your social work processes?

Start modestly, with clear timescales and targets. Monitor and review constantly. If performance dips then address it and hold staff to account for how they are using and introducing it. Keep going until MOMO becomes ‘just how we do things round here’.

You might want to

  • Adopt the ‘100 reviews’ approach and measure what happens when you offer MOMO to your next 100 reviews.
  • Do the same for child protection conferences
  • Set targets for each staff member, or incorporate it into existing involvement targets

Train people

Make it easy for folk to know what to do with the gift

MOMO training 2016MOMO isn’t hard to use. That said, until you’ve tried it you won’t realise just how easy. Workers need encouragement to give it a go and some direction and expectation setting for it to become part of the way they do direct work with children and young people. So do put something in training. Support your workers to feel confident.

You might want to:

  • Prime the pump by buying in the skills of a MOMO trainer
  • Ask your CiCC if they would like to deliver some of the training
  • Ask MOMO for help with running your own training sessions
  • Create 20 minute refresher sessions you can run at team meetings
  • Floorwalk once a week to talk to workers and build MOMO’s presence in their work place

Champions or practice leads, or neither?

How will your best MOMOers help their peers implement MOMO too?

We’d like to come clean. We’re not yet sure how to make a champions programme successful. We’ve seen them used a lot but with variable levels of success. What we have seen is that appointing experts by experience as ‘practice leads’, and then giving them dedicated support to share their experience, seems to be more successful.

Whichever way you do it we recommend selecting champions/leads based on attitude not tech skills and making sure they have used MOMO for real a few times before they try to show others how to use it.

Support your leads. If you don’t they are likely to become neglected, isolated and demoralised. And that’s just a recipe for failure.

You might want to:

  • Make your first leads people who work from the same floor and building as you – so you can support them more
  • Appoint leads at the end of your first month, based on who has used MOMO with their young people
  • After 2 months ask those who have used MOMO the most to describe their approach to your other leads and workers
  • Mark your leads as MOMO people so everyone else knows who they can ask – Buckinghamshire Childrens Services have done this by using lanyards.
Bucks MOMO lanyard

Buckinghamshire Childrens Services use lanyards to help their champions be recognised in the workplace

Hands on wins

Because if you’ve not touched or felt the gift, how can you know what to do with it?

We don’t tend to talk about ‘promoting’ MOMO.

Instead we talk about getting people ‘hands on’. Young people, social workers, foster carers, commissioners. Because if you’ve not tried out the gift, how can you understand its value?

You might want to

  • Invest in tablets or make sure you have internal provision of laptops or devices. It makes all the difference.
  • Ask folk to try the demo on their work computer.
  • Expect your workers to introduce looked after children to MOMO on the child’s own device

Beware the shared device

Gifts aren’t gifts if they create confusion

The wonder of mobile devices is that, battery and signal permitting, they are always there anytime you need them.

In our experience sharing devices doesn’t really work. Social work isn’t predictable, nor is knowing when you’ll need MOMO. Nor is device availability predictable. Chances are you’ll not have a device when you need it most.

You might want to:

  • Adopt an approach where staff do MOMO with the child on their own device (like this)
  • Provide devices to limited individuals
  • Ask folk to use a laptop

Its not just about social workers ­

It’s a gift for others too

Who said MOMO was just for young people, social workers and IROs?

Don’t stop with them. Give your foster carers and residential providers something MOMOish to chew on (like the MOMO worker toolkit)

Include schools and other partners in communication.

Isolate your participation officers and instruct them to offer MOMO anytime they meet a child who expresses unhappiness with their service.

You might want to:

  • Ask MOMO for a letter template to send to foster carers – like this one
  • Talk about how helpful it is for a young person to make a MOMO with someone they trust
  • Add a MOMO induction to foster carer training
  • Instruct your participation officers and other staff who listen a lot to young people to offer MOMO anytime a child is unhappy with a worker or their support – we call this ‘offering at moan point’

Things are gonna change

Gifts sometimes come with a price.

Change fatigue is real and anyone working on the social work frontline is vulnerable to it. So when you introduce something as radical as MOMO you need to allow your workers space to be upset or annoyed that they are being asked to deal with more change in how they do social work.

While allowing them space you need to continue to challenge those teams and workers who haven’t implemented MOMO, especially if a weak culture of participation is also present

You might want to:

  • Be empathic towards worker’s change fatigue
  • Be clear that participation is not optional
  • Ask for management support to hold workers to account for using and introducing MOMO
  • Keep a list of workers who are good at using MOMO and recognise their efforts. Western Trust do this in a wonderful way (for a .ppt version click here).
Western Trust Champion Certificate

Western Trust in Northern Ireland have created certificates to celebrate workers’ good practice in use of MOMO

Keep it going

MOMO is for life, not just for xmas

Perhaps the most important piece of advice here. Keep MOMO in team plans and annual performance review processes.

The Isle of Man children’s services have made achieving involvement through MOMO an objective in everyone’s PDR for the next 12 months.

In Doncaster they have used it trigger an audit of participation of young people in care planning and reviews.

And in one unnamed organisation at Month 6 of their MOMO implementation they will be using Service MOMO data to guide a participation audit – beginning with workers who have yet to receive a MOMO statement.

And finally…

Talk to us. We’re here to help you make the most of MOMO.

How to use MOMO: a video tutorial from Wiltshire

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Whether you’re an IRO, social worker or any other adult who needs to find out and record a child’s views, here’s how to do it through a co-use MOMO session 🙂

Big hat tip to Jay and thanks to Wiltshire Children’s Services MOMO leads: Netty Lee, Safeguarding & Assessment Service Manager and Janice Lightowler, Conference and Reviewing Service Manager.

Innovation in social care – is your technology tsunami about to hit?

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MOMO Conference

This is a guest post from Mary McKenna, keynote speaker at MOMOCon 2016. It talks about why innovation in the sector matters, and why its worth the effort to implement innovative solutions.

Last week I spoke at the inaugural Mind of My Own (MOMO) conference.  I talked about the role of technology in improving social care services for the children and young people who use them.  I’m a supporter because in my view, anything that helps improve the quality of communication from the young person’s perspective and management of caseload and engagement from the social worker side is a good thing.

Pillars and Foundations

Back in 2006 I started a business based on a vision of collaboration and sharing across the public sector.  There are many barriers to making this happen but it is possible.  Even though I’ve worked previously on wide scale channel shift across UK local government, Children’s Services isn’t my specialist area so my talk last week leaned heavily on a recent and excellent thought piece by Suffolk County Council’s Assistant Director of Commissioning, Richard Selwyn.  It’s called “Pillars & Foundations” and you can access the full report here.  If you work in Children’s Services and you’re interested in thinking about how technology might solve some of your wider challenges, then reading Richard’s short paper is a good start.

Change agent

I believe wholeheartedly in technology as a powerful change agent.  We’ve seen what happens in so many other industry sectors when extreme resistance to change through technology exists:

  • film processing (Kodak)
  • travel industry – transformed to self service model
  • newspapers – dying off daily
  • taxi services (Uber and the like)
  • high street shops – Woolworths, BHS

This topic was too much ground to cover in a 20 minute talk but the benefits of a more proactive approach and smarter use of technology right across the entire sector are clear to see.  This blog is to get people in the sector thinking about innovation and more importantly, why it matters & why it’s worth bothering.

The Challenge

The Department for Education’s latest figures show that 370,000 children and young people in the UK are in receipt of some type of formal intervention from the State.  However, the real number requiring support is much, much higher than this.  Richard Selwyn in his report mentions that only 1 in 8 young carers are identified, only 1% of school age children receive any type of formal mental health intervention although 24% are thought to have some sort of need and social workers themselves have said when surveyed that they can only service 20% of the need that they see.

Social workers are therefore faced with a ticking time bomb of increasing need in a time when there’s much less money and they are attempting to service an audience who communicate with each other in a fundamentally different way to how public servants communicate.  So whilst councils think they have a win moving from snail mail letters to email, I don’t know a single teenager who either uses email or makes telephone calls.  It just isn’t how they do things.

The challenge: summarised

The challenge can be summarised as finding ways to provide children and families with cheaper, earlier help that reduces demand for more expensive support further down the line.

But – because of the way that local authority budgets work, any innovation introduced has to generate tangible return on investment and pay for itself in a very short space of time.

Oh – and there’s no budget to permit you the time, resources and money you need to prototype and test properly or to try out much needed new business models.

Terrifying, frankly – and I’m way off the scale in terms of my own attitude to risk.

Finally – in terms of challenge – in the world of children’s social care, the light shines on you only when something dreadful has happened and that adds a whole different level of complexity to everything you do or try to change.

The Near Future

Whether any of us like it or not, we’re living in an age where service provision is moving from the public to the private sector and from State to volunteers/the community (that awful label Big Society that we’ve all heard bandied about at every opportunity).

For social care teams, working out how to make this future blend work is key.

Richard Selwyn’s report mentions that by 2020 (less than 4 years away), Children’s Services departments will be half the size they were in 2010.  The cynics amongst us may say that forecast is an optimistic one.  Much uncertainty exists around expecting e.g. schools, pharmacists, fire officers, etc to take on more of the traditional social care provision.

Proactive measures

A few pilots are already in place and worth a look.  Age UK Cheshire – whilst in a different part of social care – is piloting an early intervention fire prevention drive with elderly people, as they’ve realised that that part of society starts many fires accidentally.  Proactive measures for later payback.  Some of you may be aware of similar pilots in Children’s Services and it would be great if you could post the links in the comments section below.

One thing is certain – the role of the local authority will change.  Anyone who doubts that just has to look at the way the NHS has increasing influence over adult services.

Co-Production, Whole Systems Approach and Multi-Agency Working

Many see this as the way forward.  Adur and Worthing council is working on what they call a civic infrastructure.  An environment that allows the local authority to become a more permeable entity that facilitates and signposts rather than provides.

The Signs of Safety model that Suffolk County Council imported from Australia is basically a co-production variation where the social worker helps families to rally their existing social support networks and learn better how to help themselves.

The Buurtzorg model of care from the Netherlands is being piloted at various sites across the UK.

Leicestershire Community Health Service along with the Police and their audience of young people have created Chat Health.  It’s an SMS based service that was designed to replace school nurse bookings but it’s moved on to peer-to-peer support for self-harming, teenage depression, etc.  Something like this could be re-purposed and used by other services.

The problem with this approach

A little voice in my head reminds me that I’ve been working in and around local government for over 30 years, the last 15 or so spent in local government improvement.  For all of that time, finding a more joined up approach across multiple agencies has been firmly on the agenda but with patchy success and a lot of resistance and red tape.

At the moment, local government forms the bedrock to make the changes mentioned earlier happen and unfortunately, change happens in local government at a glacial pace.  When it comes to working with young people, the chasm is ever widening as communication is fundamentally poles apart.

There’s no doubt that pockets of innovation do exist across the local authority landscape but it would be great to find a way to bring about large scale adoption of some transformative tech projects.

The Future – now & soon

In the 12 months ahead expect to see:

  • much more being moved online
  • the continued rise of personal tech – medical monitoring, fitbit, self diagnosis tools
  • social prescribing gaining ground
  • ongoing transfer from public to private – offshore GP services via apps, Facebook has declared plans for a public sector delivery platform

Further out:

  • the rise of big data, localised data, predictive modelling to identify early need
  • human genome and genetic profiling
  • automation of work – some think 50% of UK jobs will be gone in the next 10 years
  • blockchain and the distributed ledger could revolutionise commissioning

What can social care leaders do?

As usual, there’s a long list.  If I was a social care team leader, this is what I’d have on mine:

  • in terms of digital, lead from the front – it’s your job
  • make it your business to stay up to date about technology – personally & professionally
  • have a strategy and communicate it often – it’s up to you to “own” the collective vision of your team
  • allow no place for Luddites – encourage, train, mentor, sing the benefits of tech
  • make use of what exists now – something like MOMO that’s ready to use, easy to implement and affordable will give you a quick win – stop reinventing the wheel
  • network and share with likeminds – start by checking out relevant groups on Knowledge Hub – the free and well used public sector knowledge sharing network – sign up here
  • get out of the office and attend weekend hack days and govcamps
  • it’s ok to expect urgency and to ask everyone to work “at pace”
  • teach your newbies about the importance & urgency grid so that they learn to prioritise effectively
  • really think about your team culture. It’s dead easy to have a plan in place with targets.  It’s harder to create a culture where everyone is working together to achieve those goals
  • teach your people to make decisions and be clear where decision making boundaries lie.  Slow or no decision making is awful and was the reason I left local government.
  • don’t punish mistakes – allow people to fail as long as they fail fast and learn from the experience
  • back horses, select a small number of projects and execute well against your plans
  • hit your deadlines and encourage a team environment where everyone does that
  • iterate and be agile and fleet of foot; long terms plans are a waste of time where fast change through technology is the norm
  • always have Plans B and even Plans C in place.

The Biggest Win of All

The public sector has for years tried to impose technological change through expensive top down waterfall approaches that cost millions.  Just look at the scores of failed NHS tech projects that have cost billions of pounds and delivered very little.

Tech today is everywhere and the good news is it’s as cheap as chips and available to us all in our pockets thanks to the late Steve Jobs.  In my view that’s where the real opportunity lies.  Affordable, incremental change at a manageable local level – preferably copied from someone else and learning from their mistakes.

If anyone reading this wants to step up to the plate & own this huge challenge, then I’ll be the first one to put up my hand and help you.


I’d like to leave you with a fitting quote from Harvard biologist E O Wilson, 87 years of age next month.  When asked if humanity will solve the crises of the next hundred years, he replied as follows:

“Yes, if we are honest and smart.  The real problem of humanity is that we have paleolithic emotions; medieval institutions; and god-like technology.  And it is terrifically dangerous, and it is now approaching a point of crisis overall.”

In technology we talk about tsunami events being the trigger for large scale change & technology adoption.  In Children’s Services your tsunami may be about to hit you – so you need to be prepared.

I enjoyed researching and writing this blog.  If you enjoyed reading it then please share it with your networks.  As always I look forward to your comments.