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Early Help

Our Vision

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Our vision is that Staffordshire will be a great place to grow up and live, where excellent health and well-being outcomes are experienced by all and where all children develop well and achieve their potential.

For some children this can only be achieved with additional support.

Helping children and their families isn’t about doing it for them; it’s about helping them to find the right solutions to improve their situation.

This means that those coming into contact with children (such as Teachers, the Police, Health Visitors, Childcare Practitioners and Volunteers) have a responsibility towards taking a committed and coordinated approach in identifying emerging needs at the earliest opportunity so that children are kept safe and achieve good outcomes.

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Our Early Help Strategy

Staffordshire’s Early Help Strategy underpins this vision. Its aim is to establish a common understanding of early help and help ensure everyone can see how their contribution can make a difference to the lives of children, young people and families living in Staffordshire.

To view the strategy please go to Early help Strategy 2015 – 2021


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What is our ‘Early Help’ Offer?

Children, young people and families that are most in need of support, receive support through a multi-agency service response through an Early Help Assessment.

The emphasis on targeting Early Help resources for those children, young people and families that most need support is a key element of the Building Resilient Families and Communities programme.

Our Early Help Offer continues to harness the engagement of the wider economy of services that touch the lives of families in one way or another is crucial if we are to identify and address issues as soon as possible.


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What is our ‘Earliest Help’ Offer?

We are clear that helping children and families as early as possible when issues first arise is a priority. Children, young people and families receive Earliest Help through universal services and organisations (including schools, colleges, academies, community groups/projects and universal health services).

These services and organisations have their roots in local neighbourhoods and villages and are therefore   well-placed to both provide support to families with relative informality, and to apply a practical approach to meeting needs. Earliest Help is provided through a range of organisations.

Please view and print off the following one-page Staffordshire Early Help Offer document for your information and reference Staffordshire’s Early Help Offer


 

What is Early Help and How Is Early Help Provided For Children and Families In Staffordshire?

Early Help involves bringing together people with the relevant skills and experience from the voluntary sector, community and/or other services to work in partnership with the child and/or their family to help themselves, build on their strengths to resolve the issue(s) and to become more resilient to prevent the issue from reoccurring.

The purpose is to work alongside families to enable them to make the changes that they need to make for themselves.

Our Early Help offer puts the responsibility on all practitioners to identify emerging problems and potential unmet needs for individual children, young people and families, irrespective of whether they are providing services for children or for adults. This helps to ensure that children, young people and families receive ‘earliest help’ through universal services and organisations as soon as possible.

Those who work mainly in universal services are best placed to identify children and/or their families that are at risk of poor outcomes. Alongside this is the use of local and county-wide intelligence to identify those who are more likely to be in need of Early Help, guiding both focus and resource for those who are less visible or who are isolated from services and/or supportive communities. We are clear that helping children and families as early as possible when issues first arise is a priority.

Harnessing the engagement of the wider economy of services that touch the lives of families in one way or another is crucial if we are to identify and address issues as soon as possible.

Effective partnership working in local areas is fundamental in addressing some of the key issues that impact on the well-being of some of our more vulnerable children, young people and families.

Staffordshire County Council works closely with its partners in response to local issues, aligning a broader focus on targeted prevention with populations of children and young people, with Early Help for individuals. The role of the authority is to co-ordinate and steer that response, but the driving force is very much a local one.

It is important that all services – universal and targeted – have a role to play in offering Early Help to children and families in Staffordshire.

It is important to recognise that early help is not a single, one-off event but a process whereby people with the relevant skills and experience from the voluntary sector, community and/ or other services to work in partnership with the child and/ or their family to help themselves, build on their strengths and to resolve the issue(s) and to become more resilient to prevent the issue reoccurring. The process will ensure:

 

  • Children, young people and families’ difficulties are identified before they have reached a point at which a child’s development and well-being is seriously compromised;
  • Having been identified early on, the scale and nature of these problems are properly understood and a plan for offering help is developed through a process of high quality assessment, the foundation of which is a ‘common early help assessment’ for use by all professionals involved with children and young people with this level of need;
  • Planning for action in partnership with children and families, having a clear understanding of the outcomes that we want to achieve; and
  • Children, young people and families are then offered the help they need in the delivery of evidence-based programmes and interventions the result of which should be that they either overcome their difficulties or are offered and accept longer term support to help manage them.

 


Referrals/Requests for Support to Early Help Teams

Woman on phone and laptopRequests for support from the Early Help Team should be made via First Response or as part of step-down arrangements between Specialist Safeguarding Units and EHTs.

Consent from the family should be obtained prior to a request for support been made. Referral guidance can be found at Staffordshire Council’s Website

Requests to refer a family to a group work programme offered by the EHT should also be made via First Response or directly from a social worker to the Early Help Coordinator currently engaged with a family. All families meeting the group work referral criteria will be considered.  Partner agencies seeking a group work provision only for a family should consider if they should also be supporting the family by an early help assessment led by their own agency.

Early Help Teams will work closely with partners in the developing Place Based Locality arena to understand and respond to locality needs and to ensure effective step-down to ‘Earliest Help’ services at the close of a period of engagement when this is appropriate.

Early Help Teams will allocate work to Commissioned Providers at Tier 2 of the Threshold of Needs where BRFC criteria are also met.

Families meeting the criteria for Building Resilient Families and Communities (BRFC) intervention will be identified at the point of request for support.

Partner agency information will also be utilised to identify further families who may benefit from EHT intervention who meet the BRFC criteria.

Where requests for support do not meet the referral criteria for EHT, First Response will offer advice on how families may access support offered at Tier 2 via 0-19 Service Providers commissioned by the Local Authority and other community and voluntary agencies.

Early Help Teams are teams of Early Help Practitioners with a variety of multi-disciplinary skills and backgrounds.  They provide a range of services for children, young people and families living within a particular geographical area by utilising the Early Help Assessment and Plan as a means of assessment and intervention.  Provision is focused on meeting additional, targeted needs at level 3 as defined by the SSCB.  The focus of the EHT is to support families who, without some intervention and support, would be requiring of statutory social work services.

Group work is offered to families at any level of need post Universal provision who meet a defined referral criteria and support in a co-work capacity is provided to some families in statutory social work services. ’Intense’ cases identified as part of BRFC will be offered a multi-agency approach and a more intense level of intervention.  Early Help Practitioners may also work alongside social workers leading statutory social work interventions where families additionally meet the criteria for inclusion on the BRFC programme.