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Early Help

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter provides information for practitioners, in every agency, who work, or come into contact with children and their families where there may be low level or emerging needs.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Early Help Assessment
  3. Locality Early Help Hubs


1. Introduction

The basic needs of most children can be met through a range of universal services, including education, early years, health, housing, youth services, leisure facilities and services provided by voluntary organisations.

Children and their families will experience a range of needs at different times in their lives. All children require access to high-quality universal services, but some will also benefit from support to address additional needs. In Hull this support is called Early Help.

“Providing early help is more effective in promoting the welfare of children than reacting later. Early help means providing support as soon as a problem emerges, at any point in a child’s life, from the foundation years through to the teenage years” (Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015).

From the perspective of a child, it is clearly best to receive help before they have any, or have only minor, adverse experiences.

Effective early help relies upon local agencies working together to:

  • Identify children and families who would benefit from early help;
  • Undertake an assessment of the need for early help; and
  • Provide targeted early help services to address the assessed needs of a child or family.

The Hull Safeguarding Children Board ‘Model for Identifying Needs and Analysing Risk when Working to Strengthen and Support Families - Threshold of Need Guidance’ brings together information to help professionals and agencies to work together effectively to meet the needs of all children in Hull.

Professionals should be supported, through training and supervision, to understand their role in identifying emerging problems and sharing information with other professionals to assist with the early identification and assessment of additional needs.

REMEMBER For Early Help, should always be undertaken with the consent of the family and child (where appropriate).

Early help for children and families can mean help that is provided early in life or at the earliest opportunity and is:

  • Part of the ‘day job’ – everyone’s responsibility with a common approach across all agencies;
  • Helpful – easy to access, responsive to need and right first time;
  • Non stigmatising – delivered as part of our existing services;
  • Preventative – stopping problems before they happen;
  • Targeted – for individuals, age groups or geographical areas; and
  • Tailored – building on relationships and strengthening the family network.

Professionals should, in particular, be alert to the potential need for early help for a child who:

  • Is disabled and has specific additional needs;
  • Has Special Educational Needs;
  • Is a young carer;
  • Is showing signs of engaging in anti social or criminal behaviour;
  • Is in a family circumstance presenting challenges to the child, such as substance misuse, adult mental health, domestic abuse; and / or
  • Is showing early signs of abuse and / or neglect.


2. Early Help Assessment

An Early Help Assessment can be completed by any practitioner and:

  • Provides a process to holistically assess and identify accurately and speedily a child's needs at an early stage;
  • Should have the child at the centre;
  • Can be used for children of any age including unborn babies;
  • Supports the practitioner to consider the whole family;
  • Can include assessing the needs of parents / carers in relation to their capacity / ability to parent;
  • Enables information to be gathered in a structured way through discussion with the child and their parents / carers;
  • Looks at all unmet need, not just those in which individual services specialise; and
  • Is a process that supports children and their families to access appropriate services early.

The absence of an Early Help Assessment should not be a barrier to accessing services or prevent a referral to Children’s Social Care where there is an issue of Significant Harm.

At any time in the Early Help Assessment process, any professional can discuss concerns/seek advice from their line manager, designated safeguarding advisor or Children’s Social Care.


3. Locality Early Help Hubs

Locality Early Help hubs offer a range of support for practitioners who need advice, guidance or a short intervention when working with children and families with additional needs.

The locality Early Help Hubs are based within children’s centres across the City and can be contacted on:

West Locality - Priory Children’s Centre Tel: 305770
East Locality - Acorns Children’s Centre Tel: 708953
North Locality - Lemon Tree Children’s Centre Tel: 828901

Each locality hub provides a base for a number of early help practitioners such as:

  • Parenting Practitioner;
  • Healthy Lifestyle Practitioner;
  • Targeted Pregnancy Worker;
  • Young Carers Worker;
  • Drug and Alcohol Family Worker;
  • Family Group Conference Worker;
  • Children’s Centre staff;
  • Family Champions;
  • Early Help Social Worker;
  • Priority Families Employment Advisor.
The Early Help Hubs can provide information about the services which are available in the local community. They can also provide an opportunity to share ideas with a range of skilled practitioners about different ways of working with a particular child or family.

End.