A new ‘front door’ to access children’s services in Stoke-on-Trent was approved today (Tuesday) at a cabinet meeting by Stoke-on-Trent City Council.
These changes are being introduced as part of a series of improvements to children and family services. It will see the creation of a new Stoke-on-Trent children’s advice and duty service, commonly referred to as a ‘front door’.
The new front door is one of four priority areas in the council’s children’s social care improvement programme, and a key commitment in the refreshed children’s improvement plan, which was endorsed by Cabinet in June 2020. As part of the improvement plans, the council is adopting a way of working that builds on the strengths of families and communities, creating resilience and independence.
Focus will be on building relationships with those contacting the service for advice and support, understanding the context for the reasons behind referrals and reducing the number of contacts that lead to no further action.
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 well over a decade. Learning from other local authorities where this practice model has informed the new approach including Leeds City Council, Darlington Borough Council, and Dorset Council. The city council has also worked with local partners including schools, health services, the police and community representatives.
This report follows an initial report to the Children’s Improvement Board on 28 April 2020 in response to Ofsted inspections in 2018 and 2019. The dedicated Stoke-on-Trent ‘front door’ will be in place by September 2020.
For all media enquiries please contact the Communications Department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 236156.