These are children with additional needs or children whose needs are not clear, not known or not being met. Professionals should intervene early, for example through an early help assessment such as a CAF (Common Assessment Framework) to identify and tackle problems as soon as they begin to appear, rather than wait for them to escalate.
Early help services can also be targeted at children, young people and families likely to experience difficulties e.g. teenage parents, children engaged in criminal or anti- social behaviour, disabled children, young carers and children with parents who have substance misuse problems / domestic abuse and violence and / or mental health problems.
|Example Indicators||Action and the Assessment Process||Services which might be involved with children and families at this level of need|
Learning / Education
Child has language and communication difficulties.
School action or school action plus/special educational needs.
Occasional non attendance at school.
Not in education, employment or training.
Missed immunisations or health checks.
Minor health problems which can be managed in a mainstream school.
Children in hospital.
Children with disabilities.
Social, Emotional, Behavioural and Identity
Low-level emotional or mental health issues which require intervention.
Early onset of offending behaviour/involvement in the criminal justice system.
Children at risk of gang activity.
Sexually active child or young person.
Low level substance misuse.
Poor self esteem.
Self care and independence
Family and Social Relationships and Family Well-Being
Parents who are known to misuse drugs or alcohol.
Parental mental ill health.
Children who are acting as young carers.
Parents request support to help manage their child's behaviour.
Child affected by difficult family relationships or bullying.
Housing, Employment and Finance
Social and Community Resources
Basic Care, Safety and Protection
Concerns regarding basic care, safety and protection.
Early signs of abuse or early patterns of neglect identified in children.
Emotional Warmth and Stability
Lack of response to concerns raised by professionals about child.
Guidance, Boundaries and Stimulation
This is the threshold for a multi-agency early help assessment to begin (sometimes also known as a CAF).
The purpose of the early help assessment is to identify the areas where support is needed, so that targeted, multi agency early help services can be provided in response.
If professionals identify concerns with a child/family but are unsure how to respond, an early help assessment can help by identifying additional/unmet needs.
At the start of the assessment a lead professional will be identified. They will be responsible for co-ordinating the early help assessment, and liaising with the family.
Early help assessments require the consent of families. If parents and/or the child do not consent to an early help assessment, then the lead professional should make a judgment as to whether, without help, the needs of the child will escalate. If so, a referral into local authority children's social care may be necessary.
Support will be provided by Universal Services (as above) with additional input from targeted services such as:
Health, education and children's centres;
Specialist play services;
Integrated youth support services;
Voluntary and community services;
Family support services;
Youth crime prevention services;
Drug and alcohol services.