Early Help is a way of describing the extra support a family can receive if they need it. Early help is all about providing the right support to children and families at the earliest possible time; it brings together workers who can support the whole family to try and improve things for everyone.
Early Help is a collaborative approach, and not just one service. It relies on local agencies working together effectively to support children and families; this includes identifying what support might be needed, and then working together to provide that support.
Early Help can be provided by one agency, or with a multi-agency response. When we say agency, we mean:
- health services
- voluntary or charity organisations
- City of York Council
The support a child or family receives may include:
- an assessment of need
- targeted support
- signposting to other relevant support that may be helpful
Early help is voluntary and consent from the family is needed.
The Supporting Families Programme
We use the principles of the Supporting Families Programme to underpin our Early Help and prevention work with children and families. The Supporting Families Programme is the delivery model for Early Help in York, and aims to ensure that those families who need help and support get it at the earliest opportunity and from the right people.
Great things happen when families build on their strengths, call on their support networks and tackle their problems head-on and early. Children, parents and carers are most able to build resilience with the right services at their side who know them well and can offer trusted guidance.
We'll ensure that families with an emerging need for support are linked with a known and trusted professional who will work alongside them in assessing the needs of the whole family, planning solutions to get things back on track. This person would ideally be a trusted person already known to the family who is best placed to work with them and to coordinate other services to support the family and get things back on track.
The Supporting Families Programme is driven by the desire to make sure that we include all family members, and that parents and carers feel comfortable in giving informed consent for services to share information, in a safe way, to support the family.
In this way we not only address the issues that families are experiencing at the time, but also improve their longer term resilience as a family unit. We can then help them to identify support networks within services or the community, should they feel they need ongoing support.
Accessing Early Help in York
Families can ask for Early Help by:
- contacting the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub
- speaking to a worker they already know, such as;
- a member of staff within school
- a health professional
- a housing worker
- any worker who is actively supporting a family
The Early Help Coordinators will speak with families directly, or with workers, to understand a family’s needs and provide advice on what support may be most appropriate.
The agency providing Early Help may suggest a Family Early Help Assessment (FEHA). A FEHA is completed by a lead worker; they listen to the family to find out what they may be struggling with, and to also understand what is going well.
With the family’s permission, the lead worker will contact other services working with the family for information about what support they are providing and how they think the family could be helped further. The information from the family and other workers is then used to create a support plan, looking at what the family may need help changing and who can help them with this.
Once the support plan is created, the family and workers should meet on a regular basis to make sure the plan is being taken forward, and to make sure any new needs are added to the plan.