Offer of Early Help
Early Help and Early Intervention are ways to support children and families before problems become too serious. They are also known as prevention services.
These services are part of a continuum of support, which means they can be provided at any stage of a child or young person’s life, from the early years right through to adolescence. Professionals can work with parents, carers and significant adults, children, or whole families.
The phrase Early Help means offering support at the earliest possible time in a child’s life to help improve their outcomes and prevent escalation of need or risk of harm.
Early Help support is voluntary so a referral is usually carried out with the family. Also, families can self-refer. If a professional makes an inter-agency referral, then Social Services may suggest Early Help support for the family.
Research suggests that early help and intervention can:
Protect children from harm
Reduce the need for a referral to child protection services
Improve children’s long-term outcomes
Improve children’s home and family life
Support children to develop strengths and skills to prepare them for adult life
Working Together to Safeguard Children (HM Government 2018) says:
“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. Early help can also prevent further problems arising; for example, if it is provided as part of a support plan where a child has returned home to their family from care, or in families where there are emerging parental mental health issues or drug and alcohol misuse. Effective early help relies upon local organisations and agencies working together to:
Identify children and families who would benefit from early help
Undertake an assessment of the need for early help
Provide targeted early help services to address the assessed needs of a child and their family which focuses on activity to improve the outcomes for the child”
‘Early Help’ is therefore an umbrella term that describes the work of many agencies engaged with children and families including schools, health services, police, housing providers, local authorities, and many others. Our Offer of Early Help should be viewed alongside our Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy and is an approach, not a service.
In Gloucestershire, there is a belief that young people and their families are best supported by practitioners who are already working with them, as well as wider agencies, organisations, and services within their community. These organisations include health services, schools, teaching providers, councils, charities and voluntary groups, children and family centres, the police, housing providers and many others. Children and young people with additional needs will be supported through a graduated pathway of Early Help and support.