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Social workers to get PDAs & laptops

UK gov't to push mobile computing

The UK government has announced £13m funding to boost mobile working by children's social workers.

The money from the Department for Education and Skills is aimed at helping employers invest in mobile devices, laptops and PDAs.

Children's minister Parmjit Dhanda said: "Supplying social workers with mobile technology will result in significant time savings, allowing more flexibility. This will ultimately result in social workers spending more time having face-to-face meetings with the people they are there to support - society's most vulnerable children."

He added: "This £13 million grant will help the sector to continue adopting new and better ways of working."

Guidance on spending the money will be sent to local authority children's services directors shortly, coinciding with a spring report on the children's services workforce strategy.

The DfES said grants would be conditional on mobile devices having appropriate security capabilities and on staff receiving training on security issues, with the uploading or downloading of caseload data subject to both physical and program security requirements.

The issue of data security for staff working with children was highlighted earlier this week when an NHS primary care trust admitted a laptop containing names, addresses and dates of birth of 11,500 children had been stolen from its office. Nottinghamshire teaching PCT said it did not know why the children's data was held on the laptop, which was protected only with a password.

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