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Targeted Early Help

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This guidance provides information on Targeted Early Help in services in Hull. It describes the way Targeted Early Help can support children and families and explains the role of the Lead Professional and Team Around the Family (TAF) and Team Around the Young Person (TAYP) Meetings.

Targeted Early Help is a partnership model of working which is based on the consent of the child, young person or family; with the agreement of the family and child (depending on their age and level of understanding) an Early Help Assessment will be carried out and used to inform the development of a multi agency Plan in order to better understand the family’s needs and identify the most appropriate support for the child, young person or family, at the right time.

This guidance was added to the procedures in May 2018.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Targeted Early Help Support
  3. Processes Supporting Additional and Targeted Early Help Support
  4. Team Around the Family (TAF) and Team Around the Young Person (TAYP) Meetings
  5. Multi-Agency Action Plans
  6. Locality Hub - Early Help Action Meetings
  7. Early Help and Safeguarding Hub (EHASH)
  8. ‘Stepping Down’ to Targeted Early Help from Children’s Social Care
  9. 'Stepping Up’ to Children’s Social Care from Targeted Early Help


1. Introduction

Most children and young people living in Hull will be best supported, and have their needs met, by universal service provision with additional support provided as required by a single agency or through partnership working. However some children may require the provision of universal, targeted and / or specialist services working together in a co-ordinated way to meet their needs.

The term ‘Targeted Early Help’ describes a co-ordinated, partnership approach to working with children, young people and families whose needs and circumstances might make them more vulnerable. In order for Targeted Early Help to be successful, there needs to be a firm commitment from all agencies to work in partnership to meet the needs of children, young people and families at the earliest opportunity.


2. Targeted Early Help Support

Targeted Early Help is a partnership model of working which is based on the consent of the child, young person or family.

Under the Targeted Early Help Approach, a Lead Practitioner should co-ordinate a multi-agency Early Help Assessment and Plan in order to better understand the family’s needs and identify the most appropriate support for the child, young person or family, at the right time.

Points for consideration for working with children, young people and families in Targeted Early Help Support:

  • At any time in the Early Help Assessment process, any practitioner can discuss concerns/seek advice from their line manager, designated safeguarding advisor within supervision, or with the Early Help Locality Hubs or Early Help and Safeguarding Hub;
  • If the child or family decline/refuse to cooperate with an Early Help Assessment and concerns persist or escalate in relation to the child’s welfare, a decision to consult with the Early Help and Safeguarding Hub may be made or a decision to revisit the family at a later date to see if they will reconsider;
  • If there are child protection concerns (reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm), always contact the Early Help and Safeguarding Hub and follow this up in writing within 48 hours.


3. Processes Supporting Additional and Targeted Early Help Support

3.1 Role of Lead Practitioner

While all practitioners working with a child, young person and family are responsible for contributing to the multi-agency assessment and plan, when a child/young person needs a package of support, experience shows that they and their families benefit from having one person who can help them through the system, ensure that they get the right service at the right time and that agencies/ organisations communicate effectively with each other. In Hull this is the role of the Lead Practitioner.

Where a child or young person has been identified as needing Targeted Early Help Support, a Lead Practitioner can act as a key point of contact for children, young people, parents, carers and practitioners. They form a partnership not just with their colleagues across the multi-agency partnership but with the child and their family too.

An agency or individual cannot be allocated the Lead Practitioner role without the knowledge and agreement of themselves, the child and family.

The Lead Practitioner is accountable to their own agency for delivering the role. They are not accountable for the actions of other practitioners or services.

Decisions about who is best placed to be Lead Practitioner need to be made on a case by case basis and should be informed by the wishes of the child, young person and family, alongside conversations between practitioners as to who might be best placed to undertake this role effectively.

The Lead Practitioner can change depending on the needs of the child, young person and family, and the multi-agency group.

3.2 Early Help Assessment

The preferred model for Early Help Assessment in Hull is the Family Star Plus or the My Star which should be completed in collaboration with the child, young person and their family. However agencies may have in place their own assessment model which may be as appropriate to identify the needs of the child and family.

Early Help Assessment is designed to be used when:

  • A practitioner is worried about how well a child or young person is progressing (e.g. concerns about their health, development, welfare, behaviour, progress in learning or any other aspect of their wellbeing);
  • A child or young person, or their parent/carer, raises a concern with a practitioner;
  • A child or young person's needs are unclear, or broader than the practitioner's service can address alone.

The process of Early Help Assessment is entirely voluntary and informed consent is mandatory. Children, young people and families do not have to engage. If they do engage, they can choose what information they want to share. Children, young people and families should not feel stigmatised by the Early Help Assessment; indeed they can ask for an Early Help Assessment to be initiated.

The Early Help Assessment should follow the family so they do not have to repeatedly tell their story.

If an Early Help Assessment has been undertaken and upon consideration / analysis of the information it contains, there is an indication that a child is ‘in need’ or suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm, contact should be made with the EHASH and any existing assessment should always accompany this contact.

3.3 Good Practice in Early Help Assessment

Assessment requires that information is gathered and professional judgements formed about what the needs of the child or young person are, and the ability of the family to meet those needs within day to day situations. At times, this will require considering the likely level of risk to a child where there are concerns about the circumstances in which the child is living.

Understanding the child’s ‘lived experience’ is critical. While the degree of severity of concerns or the presence of multiple factors may escalate concern, the presence of protective factors may reduce a child’s vulnerability.

Where vulnerability is increased by the presence of risk factors, the presence of protective factors provides the potential for increased resilience.

Once needs, strengths, protective factors and risk factors have been considered, the process requires an analysis of the likely impact of these factors on the outcomes for the child.

Assessment should:

  • Be a dynamic process, which analyses and responds to the changing nature and level of need and/or likelihood of harm faced by the child;
  • Monitor and record the impact of any services provided to the child and family and review the help being provided; and
  • Be focused on the needs of the child and on the impact any services are likely to have on the child. This leads to action planning.

The following diagram illustrates the process of assessment:

Child/Young Person

At any time in the early help assessment process any practitioner can discuss concerns/seek advice from their line manager, designated safeguarding advisor within supervision or with the Early Help Locality Hub or Early Help and Safeguarding Hub (EHASH).


4. Team Around the Family (TAF) and Team Around the Young Person (TAYP) Meetings

Best practice suggests that Targeted Early Help Support is best co-ordinated through a multi-agency plan, which is developed and monitored in a multi-agency meeting with the child, young person and family. In Hull we call these meetings Team around the Family (TAF) or Team around the Young Person (TAYP) Meetings. However, if a multi-agency meeting of any other kind is already in place, there is no need for a separate/additional TAF / TAYP Meeting.

The identified Lead Practitioner is usually responsible for co-ordinating the meeting. The success of the TAF relies on agencies and practitioners having a genuine desire to work together and openly with families. All practitioners have a shared responsibility for the multi-agency plan and ensuring that actions are carried out in a timely way.

Each practitioner involved in the multi-agency meeting is responsible and accountable to their own agency for the services that they deliver to the children and families that they are working with. They are also jointly responsible for:

  • Developing, delivering and monitoring the impact of the multi-agency plan;
  • Delivering the activities that they have agreed to carry out;
  • Keeping other members of the meeting informed about progress and attending meetings;
  • Contributing to recording and chairing of meetings and taking on other tasks as necessary;
  • Supporting the lead practitioner by providing information, guidance and advice;
  • Contributing actively and positively to solving problems and resolving difficulties.

It is good practice to fully involve children, young people and the family in the meeting. However, this may not always be possible.


5. Multi-Agency Action Plans

The multi-agency plan should show clearly how progress is being measured using appropriate tools and scales. The plan should include realistic timescales for the required changes to occur. The record of the meeting and review of the plan should show progress made or lack of it, how this has been measured and by whom. Planning should focus on improved outcomes for the child / young person and their family.

All plans should include a contingency plan which states clearly what will happen if progress is not made within the required timescale. Ideally contingency plans will be discussed and agreed in advance with children, young people and families and with all practitioners involved in contributing to the multi-agency plan.


6. Locality Early Help Hubs

Early Help Action Meetings (EHAMs) are part of Hull’s collaborative approach to delivering Early Help Support. The meetings are held in locality areas and provide a multi-agency forum for practitioners and agencies who are working within the Early Help framework to come together to discuss alternative partnership responses to meeting escalating concern or where multi-agency plans are not progressing towards positive outcomes for children and young people.

The EHAM is not a substitute for contacting the EHASH about serious concerns relating to significant harm.

Early Help Action Meeting membership includes children’s centre practitioners, targeted youth support, substance misuse services, housing options, parenting practitioners, children’s social care and other universal, targeted and specialist services.

They are designed to:

  • Build skills and confidence for practitioners working in universal and targeted services and enable practitioners and managers in these services to meet need and manage risk in cases below the level of specialist services;
  • Be a place to bring cases that are ‘stuck’ and in need of a discussion with a broader group of practitioners from different services and disciplines;
  • Be solution focused. Practitioners are expected to come to the meetings prepared to contribute and pick up actions and / or cases as required; and
  • Identify, discuss and provide solutions to issues in the community and interpret and act upon reports of local need in the area.

If a Lead Practitioner or anyone working with a child and family feel that they would benefit from the support provided by one of the Locality Early Help Action meetings, they can be contacted using the following numbers:

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


7. Early Help and Safeguarding Hub (EHASH)

Anyone who has concerns about a child’s welfare should make a referral to children’s social care by contacting the Early Help and Safeguarding Hub (EHASH) and should do so immediately if there is a concern that the child is suffering significant harm or is likely to do so. The EHASH is the single point of contact for practitioners and members of the public where there are:

  • Emerging needs which may require a multi-agency coordinated response (Targeted Early Help); or
  • More complex needs or child protection concerns (reasonable cause to suspect a child is suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm).

When making contact with EHASH, practitioners should use this threshold guidance and be clear as to whether, in their professional judgement, the needs of the child can be met by a Targeted Early Help response or, where the needs are more complex or there are clear safeguarding (child protection) concerns, a referral to Children’s Social Care is needed.

Based on the information provided, social workers (and their managers) in the EHASH will decide whether or not the circumstances meet the statutory threshold for Children’s Social Care Assessment. Contacts which are deemed to meet this threshold are accepted as referrals by children’s social care.

For detailed guide on the process for making contact with EHASH please see the Contacts and Referrals with Children’s Social Care Procedure.

EHASH arrangements enable social care and key partners to have oversight to secure the most appropriate route for contacts, so that those which do not meet the threshold for social care are still provided with a timely Targeted Early Help response that meets their needs.

It is possible to have a consultation with EHASH about a case in anonymous terms without giving personal details of a child or family, in order to help make a decision as to whether a formal contact needs to be made.

If there is a combination of factors which raise the level of concern about a child’s wellbeing, then consultation with Children’s Social Care may be needed.

If the child or family decline/refuse an Early Help Assessment being undertaken and there is serious concern about the child’s welfare, a decision may be made to consult with Children’s Social care. If there are concerns that a child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm, always make full and evidence based information available to EHASH.

Parents/carers and children (if old enough) must always be informed before a contact is made to children’s social care in relation to significant harm unless to do so would increase the risk of harm to the child.

All practitioners making contact with the EHASH will be informed of the outcome of the contact. If the practitioner making contact with the EHASH has not received feedback within 5 working days then it is important that they seek feedback themselves.

EHASH can be contacted on 01482 448879 for advice and guidance in relation to Early Help or Child Protection services.

Secure correspondence (e.g. documents which contain person information (should be sent by e-mail to EHASHgc@hullcc.gcsx.gov.uk.

Non confidential correspondence can be sent to EHASH@hullcc.gov.uk.

Please click here for the EHASH Referral Form.

If you are clear that the needs of the child and family can be met by access to specific additional support, you do not need to make this request via EHASH.

The following services are available through the Local Authority Early help hubs:

Please tick which service you would like to refer into:
Early Help Family Support (0-11yrs)   Drug & Alcohol Support (Children & Young People)  
Early Help Family Support (11-19yrs)   Drug & Alcohol Support (Parental/Adults)  
Early Help Family Support (targeted pregnancy)   Family Group Conferencing  
Early Help Family Support (SEND)   Parenting Support  
Early Help Family Support (NEETs)   Young Carers Support  
Early Help Children's Centre Services   Youth Services (10-19yrs)  

In these circumstances, with the consent of the child/family, contact the relevant Early Help Locality Hub, or other service provider, directly to make this request (Early.Help@hullcc.gcsx.gov.uk).

Please click here for the Early Help Requests for Additional Support Form.


8. ‘Stepping Down’ to Targeted Early Help from Children’s Social Care

Where a child has been subject to a multi-agency Child Protection or Child in Need plan but it has been determined that there is no longer a role for Children’s Social Care to be the lead agency, it may be agreed that, although safeguarding concerns have been addressed, the child, young person or family may still need some ongoing support at the level of Targeted Early Help in order to sustain change and prevent any re-escalation of concerns.

There are two ways in which a child and family can be ‘stepped down’ to a Targeted Early Help level of support:

  • Where there have been regular core group meetings and there is a robust and up to date child’s plan the social worker as the lead practitioner organises a review meeting in which a new lead practitioner will be identified from those agencies continuing to support the family. During the review meeting a clear plan of action should be drawn up to consider what support would continue to be offered and by whom. The meeting should also consider the most appropriate course of action should concerns escalate in the future;
  • Where safeguarding concerns have been addressed and there has been a need identified for some ongoing support at the early help level but there is no clearly identified lead agency to continue to work alongside a family, the allocated social worker, with the consent of the family, is able to access the support and decision making from the Early Help Action Meetings in their locality area. At the Early Help Action Meeting, organisations will look at who may be best placed to pick up work with the family and agree a lead.


9. 'Stepping Up’ to Children’s Social Care from Targeted Early Help

If a child, young person and their family are in receipt of services from any agency within Targeted Early Help and there are concerns from the Lead Practitioner or other TAF/TAYP practitioners that needs and/or risks are increasing, but they are unsure whether the threshold for children’s social care involvement is met, the Lead Practitioner can contact the Locality Hub for a conversation with a social worker about their concerns.

NOTE - if there is a clear concern about significant harm, then a contact must be made, by the person with the concern to the EHASH. This should not be delayed.

A discussion with the locality Early Help social worker should result in 1 of 3 outcomes:

  1. Advice is given, or a joint visit undertaken, but no other input is required;
  2. It is agreed that there are some complexities and further discussions will be held at the next Early Help Action Meeting (EHAM);
  3. There is a safeguarding concern which necessitates formal contact with EHASH.

End.