What is Early Help?
Devon’s Early Help offer is there to support families from pre-birth to 19 years old (25 for young people with SEND). You might need support from Early Help if:
– You are struggling with parenting or your child / young person’s behaviour
– There are arguments or violence in your family
– You are experiencing an abusive relationship
– Somebody in your family is abusing substances
– You or someone in your family is making unhealthy choices
– Your child has special educational needs or a disability
Early Help is all services that work with children, young people and families, offering the right support when you need it most. Talk to someone you know or trust (i.e. a GP or support worker) who will connect you with organisations which could offer you support. Your voice and views will be central throughout.
When a child/young person/family needs something extra, Early Help is the initial response offered by all services in contact with children, young people and families. This builds an understanding to address extra needs and prevent situations from getting more difficult for children and young people. The aim of Early Help is to build on people’s capacity and resources to manage their own dilemmas, resolve their own difficulties and prevent further problems in the future.
Early Help is not a designated team it is the way that EVERYONE works together to support the needs of families.
How do you access it?
You may already have a good relationship with someone, i.e. a support worker, health worker or youth worker. They will be able to sit with you and your child or young person to talk about any issues or concerns that you have.
You may think you or your family are struggling, but every family has strengths and we want to help you build on yours.
Firstly, you have to agree that you want to work with the agencies involved to plan how to support you. This is called giving consent.
If you have a range of difficulties that mean you need more than one organisation to work with you, you may need an Early Help assessment. The worker supporting you (ideally the person who knows you best) will help you with this. This person will be called the Lead Practitioner and will be the person who you will be able to contact.
You might benefit from a ‘Team Around the Family’ meeting (TAF) where you and other agencies can decide on the support you may need.
Who will know about this?
Generally, information you and your family provides will only be shared with people who need to know about it. Most importantly, it will only be shared with your permission, unless anyone is at risk of being harmed, or if a serious crime can be prevented or solved.
There are a range of services which can help you. The Lead Practitioner can support you to identify which services you would like and support you to access them.
If you’re not sure who to talk to, speak to any practitioner you are involved with (i.e. a GP or school). You can also visit Pinpoint www.pinpointdevon.org.uk which provides information on different services and support groups.
The Early Help Assessment
The Early Help Assessment is the tool used by all practitioners in Devon to assess the needs of family and individual family members. It enables information to be gathered about a family from a range of practitioners so their needs can be understood and the right support can be put in place. All Practitioners involved complete the relevant sections of the assessment, in consultation with families, and record this on to the Right for Children system.
Team around the Family (TAF)
The family and relevant agencies working with them are known collectively as the ‘Team around the Family’ (TAF) (sometimes also known as the ‘Team around the Child’ or TAC).
A TAF meeting engages effectively with the family and relevant professionals to produce a plan of coordinated support that enables a child or young person and their family to achieve agreed outcomes within specified timescales.
A Lead Practitioner is the person who, on behalf of the child, young person or family will coordinate the Early Help Assessment and plan. The person deemed most appropriate is usually someone who is a trusted adult/worker who wants the best for the child or young person. What is important is that where someone takes on the role of Lead Practitioner, this does not create a new burden as everyone should be committed to doing the right thing for the child/young person.
Request for Additional Services
The Request for Additional Service can be used to access additional targeted support for families, where unmet need has been identified through an assessment. Practitioners are required to consult and use the DSCB’s Threshold Tool, and have started an Early Help Assessment on Right for Children, to get an understanding of the family’s needs, before completing a ‘Request for Additional Service’. Practitioners must complete as much information as possible on the Request for additional Service form. Any gaps in information may lead to delay, or result in requests being returned.
Requests for Additional Service are discussed by multi-agency partners at weekly Early Help Triage meetings held in each of the four localities across Devon (North, South, East/Mid and Exeter). Multi-agency partners make decisions on requests and signpost to appropriate services. More information can be found at; http://www.devonsafeguardingchildren.org/workers-volunteers/early-help/