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What is Early Support and Early Help?

The term Early Help is used to describe the process of taking action early and as soon as possible to tackle problems and issues emerging for children, young people and their families. Effective help may be needed for at any point in a child or young person's life.

Early Support / Early Help

North Lincolnshire Council understands the importance of ensuring children and families receive early support and help in order to prevent difficulties escalating and requiring specialist support. We recognize that the child and their families are often the expert regarding their child's needs and therefore feel it is vital that we work together to improve outcomes.

In order to do this effectively North Lincolnshire Council have adopted the Early Help programme, alongside the Early Support principles for children with additional needs.

Early Support

Early Support is the Government's programme to improve the quality, consistency and coordination of services for children with emerging additional needs and their families across England.

Early Support is targeted at families with additional support needs associated with disability or emerging special educational needs.

An Early Support pack has been produced for parents. This includes a number of information booklets relating to particular conditions or disabilities and useful contacts for national organisations. It also includes the family file. This is designed for families to collate information about their child and be able to share it with professionals involved. It encourages joint planning, keeps everyone up to date with what is happening and helps parents give current information about their family and child to the people who are working with them.

Early Support in North Lincolnshire aims to empower families who have young children with additional needs/disabilities. It will support early identification, offer flexible coordinated services to meet individual needs and enable children to reach their full potential.

Families are encouraged to choose an Early Support Lead who will support them and their child by coordinating their needs, acting as a single point of contact for the range of services involved ensuring an integrated support plan is in place.

Family Support Plan meetings enable families to share information, helping both parents and professionals work together more effectively when meeting a child's individual needs.

Partnership working between families and professionals means that families remain at the heart of any discussions or decisions about their child. Their views are listened to and respected and their expertise is valued by the professionals working with them.

Early Help

Early help includes both:

  • help early in life (with young children including pre-natal interventions) and
  • help early in the development of a problem (with children and young people of any age)

Early Help is intervening early and as soon as possible to tackle problems emerging for children, young people and their families, or with a population most at risk of developing problems. It is about offering help to children and families before any problems are apparent and in providing help when low level problems emerge.

Early Help is not about specialist services for children, young people and their families. Specialist services are there to support families who are experiencing significant difficulties e.g. social care services for children who are at risk of harm.

Early Help is about stepping in to prevent escalation of children, young people and families needing any sort of specialist service so that low level services are provided at the right time to meet family's needs and to keep them in control of resolving their issues and problems.

Early Help is important as it allows for support to be put in place at the right time to meet families needs prior to issues reaching crisis point and to reinforce families own skills to determine their life course and therefore reduce poor outcomes and inequalities for children and young people. It also helps to break the cycle of families being dependent on services by empowering and enabling them to do things for themselves and making them more resilient and independent.

The principles that underpin North Lincolnshire's Early Help offer for families are outlined in Chapter 1 of the Local Safeguarding Children's Board (LSCB) Policy and Procedures called 'Assessing Need and Providing Help'. These are:

  • We provide help as early as possible: We will provide help and advice to you and your family as early as possible, to prevent problems getting worse.
  • Everybody deserves to be heard: Our staff will always listen to your concerns, without jumping to conclusions. They will show respect for your point of view. Whenever possible we will also talk to other family members, including children and young people.
  • We will always be open and honest and treat your whole family with respect: We recognise that all families are different and we will show respect to your family, your culture, beliefs and traditions. We will always share with you any concerns that we worry might affect the welfare of your children.
  • We see you as partners and collaborators: We will always try to work with you to find a sensible solution to the problems faced by your family. We believe that families are the experts about their own children and that you have a lot of valuable information about what will work and what won't work.
  • We look at the big picture: Problems don't usually exist in isolation. We aim to work in partnership with schools, health services and other services that might be able to support you and your family to reach the goals that we identify together.
  • We will focus on solutions: Our staff are interested to know about the things that work well in your family and about the strengths that will help you to make lasting changes. We will set these alongside any wider concerns and then work with you and your family to come up with a Support Plan.
  • We recognise that small steps count as progress: It is unusual for any family to manage to solve all their problems at once. Through your Support Plan we will agree what things need to be done first and what can wait until later. This will help us to see when things are going in the right direction. Even small steps of progress usually make people feel a lot better.
  • Our staff have the skills needed to do their job: You can be confident that our staff are well trained and supported. They have the right experience and up to date skills to work with you and your family.
  • We will always work to keep children safe: We believe that in the vast majority of cases the best place for as child or young person to be is with their family. That is why we work so hard to provide early help to prevent families from breaking down. If we disagree with you about what needs to be done to keep your child safe we will always discuss this with you and explain exactly what our concerns are and what action we believe needs to be taken to keep your children safe from harm.

Further information

  • A copy of North Lincolnshire's Early Help Safeguarding Strategy is available to download here.
  • North Lincolnshire's LSCBs policies and guidelines, including Early Help Assessment forms are available here.
  • A leaflet entitled 'Early Help for Families: Practical support and advice to find solutions to that work for you and your family' is available to download here.


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