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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.

Group of children walking in a line near waterStaffordshire 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

Requests 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 in the Staffordshire Council’s First Response Page

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.