Early Help

Our Early Help Offer

Early Help means taking action to support a child, young person or their family early in the life of a problem, as soon as it emerges. It can be required at any stage in a child’s life from pre-birth to adulthood, and applies to any problem or need that the family cannot deal with or meet on their own. The process is entirely voluntary and informed consent is mandatory, so families do not have to engage and if they do, they can choose what information they want to share. Children, young people and families that are most in need of support, receive support through a multi-agency service response which is identified through an Early Help Assessment (EHA). The emphasis of the assessment is on targeting Early Help resources for those children, young people and families that most need support. Children and families should not feel stigmatised by the EHA and they can ask for an EHA to be initiated.

At JFCS we recognise that each child, young person and family member is an individual, each family is unique in its make-up and reaching decisions about levels of need and the best intervention requires discussion, reflection and professional judgement. We believe in working collaboratively and respectfully with our families (or with young people on their own where it is age appropriate) at all times in order to support them to address their needs at the lowest possible level and at the earliest possible time.

Regular meetings are held between the Safeguarding Team, Heads of Year and Senior Leaders where vulnerable pupils are discussed and arrangements made for how they can be best supported. We ensure that any appointed person undertaking the role of Early Help has received the appropriate Safeguarding training in Early Help, they report to the Senior DSL or Head of School, and receive supervisory support. The Safeguarding Team, Student Services and Heads of Year are trained to complete Early Help Assessment.

As a school we maintain regular general contact with other agencies, where appropriate, especially Children’s Social Care and the Local Authority Early Help Team.

When there has been a safeguarding concern raised, your child and family may need advice or support from a number of different people and organisations. Perhaps you need support from a medical professional, a Teacher, Head of Year or Student Services. Staff in school are also able to make referrals to specialist services

Integrated working helps to give a voice to the child and family and means that all the people working with you will involve you in the decisions made about what support should be put into place. A coordinated approach between agencies and identifying problems when they emerge are key in securing the best outcomes during the Early Help process.

Who is responsible for completing an Early Help Assessment at JFCS?

The Senior Designated Safeguarding Lead will triage all requests for early help and direct the appropriate member of staff to lead on the assessment.

We will offer advice and support on matters around the Early Help Assessment, working with families to help identify what kind of support would be helpful and what other agencies may need to be involved to help work through current concerns.

This will involve meeting with members of the household and your child to ensure the assessment is thorough and detailed. If preferred, staff can attend the family home to complete parts of the assessment and meet family members.

The process will be shared with you, findings discussed and decisions agreed on how we move forward once the assessment is complete. Possible outcomes are that the situation has been resolved within the family and the assessment will be closed or a Team Around the Family (TAF) is called to work through all of the concerns and identify actions that will be monitored through 6 weekly TAF meetings.

What is an Early Help Assessment (EHA)?

  • An EHA is an initial assessment and planning tool that facilitates and coordinates multi-agency support. It assesses the situation of the child or young person and their family and helps to identify the needs of both the children and the adults in the family.
  • It enables families and agencies to efficiently identify the strengths and emerging needs of children and young people at risk of poor outcomes; it reduces duplication of assessment and improves involvement between agencies
  • The assessment may take up to 45 days to complete depending on the information that is needing to be gathered.

As part of the detailed Early Help Assessment we will look at the following areas for each unborn baby/child/young person and their family:

  • What are the child’s wishes and feelings?
  • What are the harms or risks (past and present) that we are worried about in respect of an unborn baby/child/young person?
  • Are there any concerns or risks external to the family, such as in the extended family, peer group, community, and school or on-line?
  • What has happened to this child/young person? What trauma may have impacted on them?
  • What are we worried is going to happen to the unborn baby/child/young person in the future if nothing changes?
  • What are the parents/ carers understanding of the situation and to what extent have they engaged with the services?
  • What are the child/young person’s and family’s strengths? Could these be built upon, utilised
  • What support and interventions have been offered previously?
  • Did these make a difference? If not, why not?
  • What support and interventions can your agency offer this unborn baby/child/young person and family? Could this address the needs or is support required from another agency or other local facilities?
  • What support is needed and how will this address the needs? What’s working and what’s not?

Why do I need an Early Help Assessment?

The intended benefits for young people and families are:

  • Enhanced life chances as a result of the well documented benefits of Early Help in preventing issues later in life.
  • You may have experience significant change in circumstances, trauma
  • An all age integrated service providing continuous support across age groups and for the whole family.
  • Co-ordinated support resulting in maximised opportunities and outcomes for children, young people and families.
  • Information may be shared across agencies to ensure the right support is in place at the right time for families

Signs that a child or young person may benefit from Early Help include:

    • Displaying disruptive or anti-social behaviour
    • There are on-going safe guarding concerns
    • Being bullied or bullying others
    • Having poor attendance at school
    • Being involved in, or at risk of, offending
    • Having poor general health
    • Having anxiety, depression or other mental health issues
    • Misusing drugs or alcohol
    • Having a particularly challenging relationship with parents or appearing to be unusually independent from their parents
    • Experiencing difficulties at home, such as domestic abuse, parental substance abuse or parental mental health problems

(Department for Education (DfE), 2018).

Some groups of children may be more likely to need early help than their peers. These include children who:

  • Have been excluded from school
  • have special educational needs
  • Are disabled
  • Are in care
  • Are leaving or preparing to leave care
  • Are young carers
  • Are young parents (or about to become young parents)
  • Are experiencing housing issues

What makes a good Early Help assessment?

  • The Early Help Assessment must be completed with the family
  • It will help you to understand the views, needs, strengths and difficulties of the individual members and how they work together as a family.
  • Make sure it included the whole family – children, young people, parents and carers should all contribute to the assessment and their voices should be evident throughout.
  • Identify and detail the needs of all family members.
  • Focus on all the family members’ strengths too
  • Empower the family to consider their own wider support network.
  • Be realistic about what can and cannot be positively changed
  • Be honest and transparent. Make sure it is completed in a timely manner.
  • All practitioners who are supporting the family when the assessment is undertaken should contribute

The school is using the recommended Early Help Assessments and available tools for families living at a Derbyshire address. You may find the following links helpful: