Three new children and family strategies have been approved by Stoke-on-Trent City Council at a cabinet meeting.
The strategies (20-2024) are part of a range of improvements being made to the council’s children’s services and have been put in place to better support children, young people and families within Stoke-on-Trent.
‘Room to Grow’ sets out how the council, as part of a citywide partnership of organisations including schools, health, the voluntary sector and police, will work together to improve outcomes for the city’s children and young people, including those who are most vulnerable.
It focuses on the delivery of six priority outcomes that ensure children and young people in the city are safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, involved and prepared. The strategy outlines the partnership’s commitment to ensure that all children and young people receive excellent early years development, the best education, good health, and are loved and nurtured.
The strategy also confirms that, as a city there are three things we will, collectively as a partnership, obsess about. They are the best start in life, children in care, and young people achieving more. It takes account of resident, partner and other staff feedback through a consultation on the strategy which took place earlier this year.
The Early Help and Prevention strategy sets out the local authority’s approach to ensuring that effective early help and support is available to children and families in Stoke-on-Trent. It aims to make sure that the needs of vulnerable children and families are identified and responded to swiftly before problems become entrenched or reach crisis point.
The new approach aims to improve access to advice, help and support, develop a core local offer of early help and prevention support, improve the quality and co-ordination of early help and prevention services, empower families and communities, increase engagement from children and families and support the delivery and commissioning of evidence-based programmes and initiatives tailored to local need. Governance of the strategy will sit with the Early Help and Prevention Board which is made up of a number of partners across the city.
The third strategy sets out how Stoke-on-Trent City Council will ensure that a focus on achieving permanence for children and young people is embedded into social work practice, placing children at the centre of the planning process. The strategy outlines the council’s commitment to ensuring that children who come into care go on to have secure, stable and loving homes that support them through childhood and beyond.
Achieving permanence for children and young people who cannot return home is a fundamental responsibility of the Local Authority as ‘corporate parent’. If we are unable to achieve reunification for children with birth parents, we have a duty of care to do everything within our power to achieve this through identifying and matching children and young people to adopters, connected carers and long-term foster carers.
It considers a number of options to achieve permanence and improve the pathway to a permanent home for children in care within the city. It includes the innovative project where the city council has joined forces alongside Staffordshire County Council, Shropshire Council and Telford and Wrekin Council to create the Together4Children adoption agency. Backed by the Department for Education, which has invested more than £600,000 in developing the project, Together4Children will focus on achieving permanent placements for adoption faster than before.
Councillor Dave Evans, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “Putting children at the heart of what we do is something I and colleagues across the council are striving for. We want to make sure that we have a really strong narrative for children – not just for the city council but for the city overall.
“We want to invest in children and these new strategies look to do just that, working closely with our partners. They outline a number of improvements that make real strides in how we will support children across the city. I’m looking forward to seeing how they will directly benefit the lives of young people and families in Stoke-on-Trent over the coming months and years.”