App’s a good idea: New Zealand’s tool for finding children at risk

A crucial tool for every agency that offers services to children.

New Zealand’s finance ministry and statistics body have built an app to visualise where children are at most risk of needing needing social and financial support from the government. “By gaining a clearer understanding of indicators associated with poor outcomes, social sector and community organisations can identify where best to invest early rather than deal with problems after they have emerged,” said Fiona Ross, Deputy Secretary of Treasury. It helps the government plan where social services need the most improvement and pressure local authorities to make changes. NZ tool The app lets users visualise data for the whole of New Zealand, or specific regions. Within Auckland, users can select data for specific parts of the city. Users can look at the data by age groups, gender and different indicators of why they are at risk, like having been abused, had a parent in prison, or disabilities. Alongside maps, the app shows tables with more granular data. Both maps and tables can be downloaded. It can help schools understand which children are most likely to drop out. Prison services can understand which children are most likely to fall back into crimes. Family and social service agencies can work with parents with lower qualifications or a criminal record to offer a better environment for their children. The aim of the programme is to encourage agencies to use data and evidence to inform their policies and plan services. “We want to understand more about who is most at risk of poor outcomes,” Ross said. The Treasury built the app together with Statistics New Zealand. The agencies want users to give feedback on how useful the tool is and on its functionality - whether it works as expected and if there other features they would like to see. The Social Investment Insights app can be found at here.