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Introduction to the Early Help Toolkit

Early Help Guidelines

The following toolkit was developed by a multi-agency working group encompassing a range of services that support families as part of the Early Help offer.

The areas to be covered will provide an overview of what Early Help is along with hints and tips for what ‘good practice’ looks and feels like. It supports the Early Help Practice Standards by giving links to tools and resources we can use when working with our children, young people and families. In turn this will enable practitioners to meet the standards to make positive and sustained changes in the lives of our children, young people and families.

It is not intended as a definitive guide but an aid to develop a common understanding across agencies and individuals, so effective partnerships can flourish and develop through shared goals. The toolkit contains all areas of Early Help from referral to direct work, along with resources and tools that can be used to support practice and provide information to families and their children.

Please note that it is not possible to cover every scenario or concern, the guidance included needs to be used in conjunction with your professional judgement, however if in doubt seek advice from your Safeguarding Lead or Line Manager.

This guidance reflects the commitment from workers and agencies at all levels to develop and implement a co-ordinated Early Help offer when working with children, young people and families. It reflects the passion of Buckinghamshire’s workers to improve outcomes and reduce the need for statutory intervention from Social Care. It is underpinned by Buckinghamshire’s Early Help Strategy, the Troubled Families Programme, Government strategies, policies, and research.

We would like to acknowledge the input from the following services in the development of this document:

Action for Children, Barnardos, Buckinghamshire County Council Children’s Services, Thames Valley Police, Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust

Early Help

What is Early Help and why is it necessary?

Early Help is about ensuring that children and families receive the support they need at the right time.

Working Together to Safeguard Children (2015) defines Early Help as:

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.

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 and their family which focuses on activity to significantly improve the outcomes for the child.

Partnership working to support families to access Early Help

The Early Help Strategy sets out a multi-agency partnership approach to coordinating Early Help for children and families. The aim is to engender a commitment to Early Help, embedding an understanding of thresholds and appropriate levels of action across agencies; to work together to ensure that children and families receive the support they need at the right time.

The Early Help Strategy asks all multi-agency partners to work within the principles of Early Help by:

  • Embedding the Thresholds document within their organisational processes;
  • Engendering cultural change within the workforce, embedding the principles of Early Help into training and working with the agreed Early Help approach;
  • Ensuring appropriate and timely information sharing takes place;
  • Providing evidence of their contribution to the impact of the Early Help Strategy.

Further Information

Early Help Strategy – Nov 2015

Buckinghamshire Family Information ServiceTheir website has a directory of organisation that can provide support at different levels (click on the Early Help tab) or call 01296 383065

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