How can early help services support my family?

Families can sometimes face challenges that are difficult to manage alone. It can be helpful to have some extra support from other services at an early stage to prevent difficulties growing. This might be called Early Help, Early Intervention or Families First, depending on where you live.

This information will help you to decide if early help is right for you and your family and to know what to expect if you’ve been referred to early help.

Why would I need early help?

You might be offered early help if: 

  • Your child’s behaviour becomes disruptive or anti-social. 
  • Your child is being bullied or bullying others. 
  • Your child has poor attendance at school. 
  • Your child has anxiety, depression or other mental health issues. 
  • Your child is at risk of being exploited or radicalised. 
  • You or your child has an illness, disability or additional needs or your child is a young carer.
  • Your family is affected by housing or financial problems.  
  • There are difficulties at home like domestic abuse or alcohol or drug misuse. 
  • Anything else is having a negative impact on your family. 

Taking part in early help is voluntary and can only happen with your permission. You can be referred to early help by professionals working with your family –  like a teacher, GP or health visitor – or in most areas you can contact your local early help service yourself through your local council website 

Who is the early help service?

The extra help offered by early help can come from a range of organisations. It is co-ordinated by your local authority, but that doesn’t mean you are ‘under social services’. The role of early help is to make sure all the services involved are held accountable to their agreements.   

When there is more than one service involved with supporting your family, this can be made clearer by having an early help Assessment and regular Team Around the Family meetings. This means that you get the chance to meet regularly and agree plans moving forward, you are an important part of this team. You can choose a professional to become your early help Lead, this person will arrange these meetings with you and the other services. 

What is an early help assessment?

If you have worries about your family, then you can ask a professional who’s working with you or your children for an early help assessment. Or if a professional has concerns, they may suggest an early help assessment to see what support may be available for your family. 

An early help assessment is a way of noting down what is going well in your family, what the worries are and what needs to happen to help things improve. Together you will then agree the best way to make this happen; this will be written into a Family Plan.   

You might need help in one or more of the following areas:  

  • School, education or training.  
  • Home and life relationships including parenting.  
  • Health and emotional wellbeing.  
  • Work, finances or housing.  
  • Domestic violence or abuse.  
  • Crime or anti-Social behaviour.  

    Your support plan

    After your assessment: 

    • Your support worker will get a team of people together who you and they feel may be able to offer the best support (this can include family and friends). 
    • You will fill out a My Family Plan and this will remind everyone about what is going to happen, who will be doing it and by when. 
    •  You will choose one person from that team to be your early help Lead and they will support you to and make sure the team keep to their agreements. 
    • As a team, you will review your plan regularly to make sure that things are improving for your family. By working as a team, everyone is clear about their role.  
    • Once you feel that things have improved and there is no longer a need for this support, your early help Lead will complete an early help Closure and this support will come to an end.
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      This advice was written by our experienced Parent Talk coaches. Parent Talk is a free online service for parents and carers, provided by the charity Action for Children. For more advice, message our parenting coaches with our online chat.

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