Helping separated parents resolve child arrangement disputes
Help separating parents make informed decisions about child dispute resolution services, and reach amicable and sustainable agreements about their child arrangements. During my contract I worked in the capacity of Service and Interaction designer across several initiatives, and provided guidance to less experienced members of the team.
A highly collaborative approach with a multi-disciplinary digital team with embedded policy representatives, working with a large group of public and private sector stakeholders to facilitate a user-centred design approach to ensure solutions were meeting the needs of citizens. To facilitate collaboration, I planned and executed workshops including variations of Design Sprints to rapidly develop solutions that are useful to citizens, technically feasible, and viable to the business.
The team was given remit to rapidly test and iterate solutions focusing on a series of hypotheses around interaction between parents (including high conflict relationships), information and guidance, making informed choices, and the process of applying to court. In the case that a hypothesis resulted in not being true, and user needs were not being met, the team were trusted to make the recommendation to not develop the initiative further - allowing resources to be appropriated to explore different opportunities.
In order to understand the process of applying to court, members of the team followed the application from start to finish, shadowing HMCTS staff at several Family Courts, and staff at the Cafcass National Intake Centre.
After each site visit, I would facilitate a Story Mapping session for the team to bring the process to life and create a shared understanding of the process.
The user journey contains many touchpoints between both parents, friends / family, along with private and public services - all before they even consider going to court, which contains additional interactions with HMCTS, Cafcass and legal services. To understand and innovate on the complex journey, I created a Blueprint with the team to outline our vision for the service, and detail complex touchpoints with the required back-end support to realise this vision.
I worked closely with a user researcher, who conducted testing sessions during each sprint, planning research to ensure that the design was understood by users and achieving the policy objectives. Each iteration addressed problems identified by qualititative feedback from users and stakeholders.
After challenging inititatives that failed to meet the needs of citizens, the team recommended and delivered a service pilot that enabled parents to 'Apply to court about child arrangements' digitally. The service offers a vastly improved user experience for parents, providing contextual information and expediting the process for parents at risk of domestic and / or child abuse. 'Nudges' throughout the application also increased referral rates to appropriate alternatives to court and support services.
Additionally, the digital service improved the application processing for HMCTS and Cafcass staff, with a vast reduction of error rates, remissions and time to process the application.
As a result, the service has been nominated for the 2018 Civil Service Awards by the Private Family Law reform team.
From the outset I was impressed by Andy's relentless attention to detail while always keeping his eye on the wider user needs and buisiness goals. That's not easy in a very changeable and stressful environment.
Andy built enduring relationships and brought the most stubborn of people with him on the long-haul of the project. Looking back, the success story that the project turned out to be was largely down to Andy's talent as a designer and the confidence he instilled in everyone.
Family Justice User Researcher, Freelance
A ground-breaking pilot, working collaboratively across and outside the Ministry of Justice to allow people to apply for a child arrangement, specific issue or non-molestation order online, and exploring how people can resolve disputes without going to court.
Director General, Ministry of Justice
Working with Andrew has been a pleasure. His character makes it easy to plan and adapt to different policy steers. He always has a positive attitude and I really hope I am able to work with him again in the future.
Policy Manager, Ministry of Justice