Find out how to get help early on for children, young people and their families with clear, multiple or complex needs. We can offer help and support to meet these needs and reduce possible risks.
What is early help?
Early help means providing support to potentially vulnerable children, young people and their families as soon as problems start to emerge. If they're facing certain challenges, or have complex needs which cannot be dealt with by universal services (for example, schools, health visitors, school nurses), they can be referred to us for help.
We work with a number of agencies who come together as a team to:
- identify children, young people and families who would benefit from early help
- undertake an assessment of the need for early help
- provide targeted early help services and interventions to address the assessed needs of a child, young person and their family, and improve their outcomes.
If a child or young person has multiple needs, this multi-agency approach usually works best. An Early Help Assessment (EHA) should be undertaken and coordinated by a practitioner in a lead professional role who will work alongside the family to ensure they receive all the support they require.
Early help options
A professional who works with children, and who you may also know, could suggest early help (for example, a teacher or a health visitor). Alternatively, you can ask them to refer you and your family for more help and support, and with your consent they will complete a referral with you.
Your referral can either go directly to a single service, if the child or young person's need is clear, or if the needs are multiple, unclear or complex, complete an Early Help Assessment (EHA).
Early help targeted support
You can refer a child or young person directly to one of our services, if it's clear that the child or young person has a single, overall need. Go through the following checklist first:
- confirm the child or young person need early help by checking the threshold of needs matrix
- confirm that the child or young person's needs are clear and are not currently being met
- identify a service which will meet their needs.
Consider an EHA if more information becomes available that identifies further complex needs. You must discuss and agree this approach with the child, young person or family.
Some services you can go directly to are our Connecting Families team who provide help and support to families with complex needs (if eligible), and our Children's Centre services, who offer general family support, personal and employment skills support, as well as home learning services.
Download our free Early Help App for details of all of our services (including our commissioned early help targeted support services) from the Apple or Android store, by searching for ‘B&NES Early Help’. Alternatively, you can search for childcare and family services in BANES on 1BigDatabase.
Early Help Assessment
If you know early help is needed but the needs are unclear, multiple or complex, requiring the input of several agencies, view the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board's (LSCB) guide to assessment and thresholds first. The thresholds show where early help and targeted support sit in between universal services and statutory social care, as part of the wider care and support system.
This guide aims to help you to identify the most appropriate level of intervention and support.
Discuss why an EHA could be beneficial with the child, young person and their family. You can also discuss this with your colleagues or your manager.
Request early help
Please note, this is a voluntary process and you must get signed consent from the parent or carer, or young person when you submit your request.
To request early help, download and complete our Early Help Assessment form and email to ChildCare_Duty@bathnes.gov.uk
Other ways to request early help
If you have access to this system, the GlobalScape folder that we use is called 'Children and Young People’s Specialist Service (CYPSS)'.
Write 'private and confidential to be opened by addressee only' on your envelope, and post to: Children and Families Assessment and Intervention Team – DUTY, People and Communities Department, Bath and North East Somerset Council, Lewis House, Manvers Street, Bath BA1 1JG.
Please note, this is a postal address only.
For further advice, or if you're unsure about requesting early help, call our Integrated Working team on 01225 39 50 21 (weekdays, 8.30am to 5pm, except Fridays when we're closed from 4.30pm), or email IWT@bathnes.gov.uk
If you need to talk to us about a child with disabilities or additional needs then you can call us on 01225 39 69 67.
Early Help Allocation Panel (EHAP)
Your early help request will be considered at our Early Help Allocation Panel (EHAP) which meets every two weeks to ensure that the child or young person receives timely support from the most appropriate service.
We aim to contact you within five working days and follow this up with a written response within 15 working days.
If a safeguarding concern becomes clear whilst we are processing your request, the Chair of the EHAP will pass it to the social care duty manager, or service manager, for a discussion and agreement about the best course of action.
We will also consider a child or young person who doesn't meet the thresholds (above), but would benefit from early help, even though it might not be clear which early help service is suitable.
We will carry out further reviews at least every three months, which we will agree with the family. The current early help referral will be closed once all agreed aims have been met. If other needs are identified, the EHA will be revisited and updated at a later date with the family's consent. Please let our integrated working team know if a decision to close the current EHA has been made.
If you have reported a safeguarding concern about a child or young person, but it doesn't meet the threshold for social care involvement, and early help is more appropriate, you will receive feedback about why thresholds have not been met. We will discuss options for providing support with you, or direct you to a more appropriate early help service.