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Case Study

Children 1st: Delivering better outcomes for families


Children 1st



Project Type

Microsoft Dynamics 365


Children 1st’s ambition is for every child in Scotland to be safe, loved and well, together with their family.

The charity offers emotional, practical, and financial support to help families to put children first and campaign to uphold the rights of every child.


Children 1st support the whole family when they need it, for as long as they need it. They offer help to prevent families reaching crisis point, to keep children safe and to support children and families to recover from trauma and harm.


Before engaging Kerv Digital, Children 1st were using a proprietary, heavily customised end of life SQL Database to run their organization and deliver critical services to families Technical restrictions and high overheads for modifying the system meant the technology had not kept pace with the changing needs of the charity, or their ways of working.

Not only did Children 1st struggle to update the system to improve processes, the terminology and language used by the system felt out of date and not representative of the ‘human’ side of what they do. The system did not talk about families and children as individuals, and instead referred to them as more transactional service users. This was not representative of the values and approach of Children 1st, it had become clear they needed to evolve all areas of how they recorded important information about families.

The charity wanted to develop a new approach which supports the incredible work with children and families, respects the rights of those whose data they hold, and enable them to evidence the quality and impact of their work through an intuitive system, that is accessible and simple to use. They agreed that Microsoft Dynamics 365 represented the best platform for the charity, due to the extendable nature of the system, allowing them to tweak and evolve the system, to ensure they never stand still with technology again.

Children 1st performed a thorough review of potential providers and settled on Kerv Digital due to their innovative approach to building long-term solutions in partnership with charities and solving problems together rather than offering a one-size-fits-all product.

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Once Kerv were engaged to help, the first part of the process was undertaking a thorough discovery piece of work to plan out what was needed and to ensure collective understanding for what the end result would look like across the development team as well as non-technical stakeholders such as senior leaders at Children 1st and of course the families whose data would be recorded in the system

To ensure the new solution was going to be a success, Children 1st performed first-party user research to ensure that children and families were involved in every stage of the thinking, design, and implementation of how they record the impact of their work and the language used across the system. This meant numerous rounds of iteration to the design, to give the best possible experience for both colleagues and families interacting with the system.

Through this series of in-depth design workshops and an agile, iterative approach to development, we collectively delivered three separate apps that would capture information, produce reports and fulfil the ongoing requirements from a range of services across the organisation. Most importantly, these apps used a common set of terms and language that was simple, easy to understand and made sure families felt like respected individuals, and not a number within a database.

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The technology has helped transform how Children 1st approach recording information about children and families. It enables them to be much more outcome focused, and in line with the individual-focused approach that colleagues have always delivered. The process now starts with recording what families think will make a difference for them, captures the child and family’s journey as they work with the charity and measures what difference this work has made.

By more effectively gathering their hopes, progress, stories and feedback of children and families, Children 1st are amplifying the voices of children and young people, so that they can learn and evidence what really makes a clear and positive difference for children and families. What’s more, having a system that ‘talks their language’ re-enforces the importance of involving children and families in the creation of their own records. Children and families are able to review and connect with their own story as they have recorded it in partnership with the charity.

We at Kerv are incredibly proud and humbled by the opportunity to work on this project with Children 1st and thank all of the team involved. Delivering a project like this that make a difference to families is hugely rewarding and why many of us choose to work in technology. To have feedback from staff at Children 1st that said:

“I would now be proud to show a family their record’ is great evidence that technology can move from a bottleneck to an enabler of change when designed and implemented correctly.”

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