Early Help and what practitioners need to know

Introduction

Early Help may be needed at any point in a child or young person’s life and we seek to offer support quickly to reduce the impact of problems that may have already emerged. Families are best supported by those who already work with them organising additional support with local partners as needed.

For children whose needs and circumstances make them more vulnerable, a coordinated multi-agency approach is usually best, based on an Early Help Assessment, with a Lead Practitioner to work closely with the child and family to ensure they receive all the support they require. This should involve the provision of services to meet the child’s needs.

We have identified a set of principles to support our Early Help Approach incorporating the Early Support principles for disabled children.

Our Early Help Approach is based on practitioners having quality conversations at the earliest opportunity with the right people. These conversations take place throughout Early Help work, not just at the start. Right conversations, right people, right time.

Early Help work involves: identifying need; assessment; planning; providing; and reviewing the plan.

At any time in Early Help work, if it is considered that a child is at risk of or experiencing significant harm, the practitioner must contact Duty and Advice at the Front Door.

When having conversations (and working) with practitioners from other agencies there will at times be differences of opinion. Disagreements can be a sign of developing thinking, and the value of exchanging ideas from different perspectives should not be under-estimated. However, disagreements may disadvantage the child or family involved if they are not resolved constructively and in a timely manner. When such disagreements occur practitioners should refer to and follow the concerns resolution process, ensuring that quality conversations with line managers are key to supporting the process.

To achieve the best outcomes for children and young people; to promote their welfare and safeguard them from harm, agencies need to work together. Children and young people’s needs and circumstances can be complex and it is only by agencies coming together and working collaboratively that we can achieve a holistic assessment of the child or young person within their family and community and ensure that they receive the services that they need. Effective interagency working is dependent upon effective information sharing whether a child or young person just needs some additional support (Early Help) or whether there are concerns that they are at risk of significant harm (safeguarding).

Information sharing should take place between adult and children's services. This should promote the Think Family, Work Family approach.

Good practice when working with a child, young person and their family is to speak to the family first and gain their consent before contacting another agency about a concern including where there is a risk of significant harm.

However, if the practitioner feels that to do so would put the child at risk or is unsure, they should seek advice from their own agency safegurding lead. If this is unavailable then they should contact Duty and Advice Team at the Front Door to avoid any unnecessary delay.

Early Help guidance for practitioners

There is a suite of One Minute Guides available to provide guidance for practitioners on a variety of subjects. 

The following information provides guidance about the various stages of early help work with children, young people and their families. 

A3 Early Help Workflow poster

Download and print the A3 poster which sets out the order in which the various aspects of early help activity should take place (each heading on the workflow links to the relevant guidance).

To comment on this guidance please email: leedslscb@leeds.gov.uk