NOTE: It was planned that some young people would attend the first part of the meeting to take part in this item, and that this part of the meeting would be closed to the press and public. However, it has since been confirmed that no young people will be in attendance and the whole meeting is now likely to be open to the public.
1. Ms O’Grady presented a series of slides which set out the content and role of the MOMO (Mind Of My Own) app. Examples of the screen layout and content showed the information that young people could record on the app and how this recording linked into and helped them prepare for care reviews and other meetings. A related app called MOTO (Mind Of Their Own) was to be launched in December 2016 for younger and disabled children, and the content and layout of this was also displayed. Ms O’Grady demonstrated use of the app, using the combination of click options and free-text fields and showing the range of information covered, including young people’s feelings and wishes, likes and dislikes, fears and concerns. She reassured the Panel that the app had been tested by the County Council’s IT team and that information entered on it was secure. Information entered could not be saved to a smartphone; it could only be accessed via a mobile phone, tablet or computer. A young person could choose to whom they wished to send the entered data, for example, their social worker or independent reviewing officer (IRO), and could see when the information had been read by them.
2. Ms O’Grady then presented an activity report which set out patterns of use, summarised the range and type of issues that young people chose to record using the app, and examples of entries, as well as the views of professionals. This information had been gathered from the period during which the app had been piloted in Kent. Although the app was used by many other local authorities, Kent had won an award for the speed at which it had adopted it, and most feedback from young people about it had been positive. There were, however, a few things still to be addressed: the facility to translate to and from other languages, the fact that tablets used by IROs and social workers were not all internet accessible, and the fact that some young people did not have internet access.
3. Ms O’Grady responded to comments and questions from the Panel, as follows:-
a) it was sad to see on the overview of points raised that relationships were placed below school on the list of ‘likes’;
b) the growing popularity of MOMO as a tool may lead to a whole new workload for social workers and IROs, in terms of the time needed to read and respond to the posts sent to them, as acknowledgements and replies would need to be sent quickly;
c) assurances about the security of the app and the data entered were welcomed. The app could be accessed on a smartphone but data would not be saved on the SIM card, and young people, social workers and IROs would need to log in to access information. In this way, the app was as safe as any other computer system. Young people could choose to send the information to another third party but would have to type in an email address to send to, so the risk of accidental sending was minimised, and social workers and IROs receiving the information would be able to see where else it had been sent. Ms O’Grady reassured the Panel that any young person considered to be particularly at risk of online ‘grooming’ or inappropriate contact would not be offered the use of MOMO;
d) inconsistency of reception and broadband speed across the county may mean that young people in some areas were less able to access and use the app;
e) adoption of the MOMO app was a major step in the right direction in allowing young people in care to record and communicate, in their own words, their feelings, hopes and fears, and allowed social workers and IROs to access this information as a useful lead-in to discussing these issues with young people and preparing for their review meetings. Ms O’Grady explained that, as a way of reflecting on feelings and expressing concerns, MOMO was a useful tool for a young person to use, as and when they felt they wanted to. They could vent about a bad day and make negative comments as a way of expressing anger, upset and frustration, but could then choose not to send the record to anyone, using it instead as a private release mechanism. Ms O’Grady reassured the Panel that a young person would never be pushed to share anything they did not wish to share, or feel ready to talk about, whether by using MOMO or in a face-to-face meeting;
f) foster carers on the Panel welcomed the use of MOMO as being much better than forms or surveys for gleaning the views of young people, and its roll out was supported. The advent of MOTO was welcomed as this would be particularly useful for disabled children. Ms O’Grady explained that the use of both apps would be covered in foster carer workshops and training;
g) in response to a question about the extent to which Kent could model the content of the app, Ms O’Grady explained that the questions and sections used were designed to reflect the nine elements of the pathway plan. Feedback on the MOMO app could be submitted to its creators, so although it was not a bespoke product, it was adaptable. Mr Segurola added that Kent was seeking to add ‘immigration status’ to the ‘key anxieties’ option from which young people could choose; and
h) in response to a question about other organisations subscribing to the MOMO app, Ms O’Grady explained that the County Council’s initial license covered everyone with an ‘…@kent.gov.uk’ email address, but she undertook to look into the possibility of adding staff from other organisations, such as the Young Lives Foundation, who provided advocacy services to young people.
4. RESOLVED that the information on the MOMO app set out in the presentation and given in response to comments and questions be noted, with thanks.