Working in the cloud: Making personal records for children in care accessible.

Paper presented at #husITa14 in Melbourne, Australia, July, 2014.


husITa14 Session

Cathy Humphreys (University of Melbourne, Australia).


Many adults who have experienced out-of-home care speak eloquently about their sadness at having few, if any, mementoes of their childhoods, and how important these are for having a sense of who they are. The photos, memorabilia, family stories and other memories marking the passage through childhood are easily lost or buried because they are not part of the official record.

Rather than requiring an already overburdened workforce to add extra records management tasks to their administrative load, the aim of the Working in the Cloud project is to develop the template for a ‘virtual locker’ or storage space for digital copies of the personal documents of children in care. This ‘virtual locker’ would store both digital copies of the personal documents of children in care and a location index for physical items such as the original birth certificate. An interdisciplinary team comprising social workers, ICT researchers, digital archivists and programmers and an ethicist worked together to pilot with young people and their workers this new digital repository.

The presentation will be based on a research scoping study undertaken with young people in out of home care or who have recently left care about their use of technology, their attitudes and approach to their personal records. Young people worked as expert consultants alongside researchers to design a ‘virtual locker’ which stores information that is relevant to children in care, in an easily accessible format for all users – children in care, and their workers and carers. The security of the personal information held is also paramount and is a significant feature of the research.

This presentation is an opportunity to report on work in progress and to stimulate discussion of these issues with others in the out-of-home care sector or interested in records.



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