Stoke services at the crossroads

social services are serving some people well but its prospects for improvement
are uncertain, according to a joint review.

While the department has many strengths, the
local authority is "at a crossroads" and needs to make more key
decisions to allow social services to move forward and fully modernise, finds
the report by the Social Services Inspectorate and the Audit Commission.

Many adult clients experience delays in
accessing services, a lack of clarity about who should have an assessment, and
too many referrals within the department and between agencies.

In children and families services staff tend
to be reluctant to offer family support. A more co-ordinated approach is needed
between agencies to ensure that the right combination of services is available
to prevent family crises.

The report reveals that there are good
relationships across local agencies and a "shared will" to develop
better services. However, the authority must focus on developing clearer and
more ambitious plans with its partners and on implementing these within an
acceptable timescale.

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