The Children's Society

Building a Better Future via a Digital Wellbeing App

The Children’s Society is a national charity that helps young people facing abuse, exploitation, and neglect. The Children’s Society supports children through serious life challenges, and campaigns for big social changes that will improve the lives of those who need hope most. Their vision is a society built for all children where hope is alive in every child. Over the next decade, The Children’s Society is determined to ensure this generation of children has a better childhood.

For a number of years, The Children’s Society has been conducting wellbeing surveys amongst young people in their research, most notably the Good Childhood Report that is released every year. The Children’s Society was testing the Good Childhood Index as an outcome tool and this typically entailed a paper-based survey. They wanted to test out the viability of using an app to deliver the tool, adding in a feature that would allow the young person to see how their wellbeing had changed over time. An app would also allow them to present those changes in a way that was easy to understand and could enable further conversations. The Children’s Society approached Cantarus to build them an app thanks to our many years’ experience in creating bespoke, engaging apps for clients.

75% of young people with mental health problems aren’t being treated
1 in 8 children have a mental health condition
50% of all mental health problems emerge by age 14
login screen of the app

Improving Young People’s Wellbeing

Children’s wellbeing is at a ten-year low, and when problems begin, they often struggle to get the help they need. The Children’s Society helps young people to recover from trauma, build resilience and overcome serious challenges in their lives. For us, being a part of such a worthwhile and meaningful cause was an easy decision to make.

The main objective of the project was to create a digital version of the wellbeing survey tool in the form of a mobile app that could be piloted. This would then help The Children’s Society understand if the app empowered young people to understand their wellbeing and supported practitioners in their own practice. The Children’s Society wanted an app that would provide real-time results, in turn enabling them to offer a better service overall and give young people more insight into their wellbeing.

Using React Native, we built a device-agnostic app and a .NET Core MVC back-office system to pull out app data as needed. 

The app is used amongst practitioners working in the field with groups of young people aged between 7-16 years. Previously, the practitioners had to use a paper-based questionnaire with the young people, with results compared manually. Although this was an appropriate way of collating data, it was creating a lot of paper wastage, therefore affecting sustainability, as well as being highly time-consuming. As such, The Children’s Society felt that an app version would be better placed to fit their needs in the long term, and allow them to pilot it internally with a small group of services.

The practitioner types in a unique case ID for each child they survey, but no other personal identifiable information is given so they cannot be recognised other than by gender and date of birth. The child completes a series of multiple-choice questions (based on the Good Childhood Index), with some answers in a ‘Strongly Agree’ or ‘Strongly Disagree’ format, and others answered on a scale of 1 – 10 in terms of satisfaction. Question topics range from finances, to love and friendships, to family relationships, personal wellbeing and more.

Once the survey has been completed, the child is assigned a Life Satisfaction score. Using the unique case ID, previous submissions are pulled into a graph screen that can then be used to compare scores and results over time. This also makes for a good conversation starting point for practitioners and children, as they have a better understanding of the child’s current thoughts and feelings.

The app is designed to work offline as remote access was an essential requirement for The Children’s Society. This means that users can complete the surveys, and when a suitable internet connection is found this data is uploaded to a database where The Children’s Society can access it. Other app features include the ability to view and compare survey answers and the functionality to export results in PDF format. In addition, the app also connects to our own back-office system, meaning that any new practitioners can be added in easily, and all data is available to download effortlessly, allowing The Children’s Society a more efficient process on the whole.

young person in counselling session

We’re extremely pleased with the quality of the app that was built by Cantarus, and we’re excited to start engaging with young people in a more digital, innovative manner. The Cantarus team were brilliant from start to finish, with regular check-ins and strong communication between teams, ultimately delivering an app that really met our expectations. We look forward to continuing our digital transformation project in the future and hope that the app is just the start of this.

Catherine Mannu Digital Project Manager

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