'Front door' to change way those accessing children's services at Stoke-on-Trent City Council are assessed

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New changes are to be introduced by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, as part of plans to improve children's services.

It as is further work takes place to address the concerns raised in a damning Ofsted report in March 2019, which rated services as inadequate, and said widespread and serious failures left children at risk of significant harm.

Under the latest proposals, approved by Cabinet last week, a new children’s advice and duty service is to be created - commonly referred to as a ‘front door’.

At the meeting Councillor Dave Evans, cabinet member for children and young people, said they wanted to move to a model where issues are discussed by a team of professionals in order to make the right decisions for children.

The aim is to build relationships with those contacting the service for advice and support, and understanding the reasons behind referrals.

It also aims to reduce the number of contacts that lead to no further action.

The service is set to be in place by September.

Councillor Dave Evans, cabinet member for children and young people said: “We are committed to ensuring that children and families in Stoke-on-Trent receive the right help, at the right time, and in the right place, and this has developed a strong vision that identifies children as the number one priority across the city.

“By placing highly experienced and trusted social workers at a single ‘front door’ in Stoke-on-Trent, we’ll be raising the quality of services from the first time we make contact, with cases assessed appropriately by social workers to make sure families get the right level of support they need.

“These new citywide arrangements will kick-start further change and reform across children and family services. This is about getting our response, decision making, and process and systems as strong as they can possibly be.

"It then allows us to improve and assure quality throughout the service so that we can make sure all children in the city get the best possible start.”

The design of the new arrangements have been developed with Professor David Thorpe of Lancaster University, who has been researching, advising and training local authorities on their ‘front door’ approach for over a decade.

Schools, health services, the police and community representatives have been involved with creating the Stoke-on-Trent model.

It is already used by Leeds City Council, which was appointed in March this year as a partner to help guide improvement over the next 12 months.


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