Early help information for parents or carers

Ways we can support you

What is early help?

Every family goes through challenging times at some point. Early help means working with you and your family so that small problems don’t become big problems.

Early help is for everybody, for families with children and young people of any age. And it’s your choice whether to have it or not.

Why would I want early help?

There are lots of reasons why people look for early help. It could be that you’re worried about your child’s health, development or behaviour, or how they’re doing at school, or perhaps because you are caring for a disabled child. It may be that you’re worried about money or housing and how that is affecting your family. Maybe your child or family is affected by domestic abuse, drugs, alcohol, or crime. Perhaps your child is a carer for other people, or maybe you’ve had a bereavement in the family that’s made life a challenge.

Where can I get early help?

If you feel you and your family might need support to solve some problems, you can ask someone in your life that you trust about early help. This might be a teacher at your child’s school, your GP, your health visitor, nursery practitioner or your housing support worker. If you find this difficult, you can always contact the early help support line to ask for advice (contact details are below). We’ll work with you to find someone for you to talk to.

Sometimes if someone is worried that you’re having some problems, they might ask you if you would like to talk about early help.

What will happen when I ask for early help?

The person you trust in your life will talk with you about the problems you’re experiencing. They will ask what help and support you think you might need. This is called an early help assessment.

Early help assessment is nothing to be worried about. It’s just a conversation to work out how to help you stop small problems turning into big problem. You can talk about things that are going well and things that you’re proud of as well as things that you’re finding a challenge.

This person will also talk with your child or children in your family to make sure they understand how they are feeling and anything they think they might want some help with.

Together you’ll agree what to write down so there is a record of what you talked about.

What happens next will be different for every family. You might make a plan with the person you spoke with to sort out the problems. You might want to meet with other people who might be able to help. This is called a team around the family meeting. Or you might want to get a service (like family support, therapy, or a children’s centre) to give you the help you feel you need.

These are just examples. You have control over what happens next and can say what you want.

If you decide you’d like some help, the person you talked with will ask if they can share details of your conversation. You need to be happy with this and give your permission. This is to make sure the people who will be supporting you are able to do a good job for you and understand the journey you and your family have been on.

Sharing information

There may be times when the person you talked to has to share information. This includes:

  • if they think a child is at risk of harm
  • if they think an adult is at risk of harm
  • if they think the information could help prevent or detect a serious crime

Social care won’t get involved unless one of these things happens, or unless the circumstances in your family change and become more serious.

Remember, it’s your choice to have early help. And early help is just to help you and your family stop small problems turning into big problems – and hopefully into no problems at all.

What can I do next?

If you’d like to find out more about early help, talk with someone in your life that you trust or contact us online.

The Early Help Assessment (EHA) is a process designed to help you support your child.

It will help:

  • your child receive the right support before a small need grows into a larger one
  • create a shared assessment, so that you and your child will not have to repeat the same information to different workers
  • ensure that everyone involved with your child – such as teachers and health visitors – works together to support your child

When is it used?

It is used if you or someone who works with your child, (for example from their school or children's centre) would like them to receive extra support.

You complete the assessment form with the worker. By doing this you will identify strengths and needs and whether other services might be needed to support you or your family.

Who is involved?

It has been adopted by all the professionals who work with children and young people in Northamptonshire. This means there is support from schools, children's centres, school nurses, health visitors, police, local councils and more.

Does my child have to start an EHA?

It is your choice whether you accept support. You have to agree who is involved in this process. You will be given a copy of the form and will be told who will see it, where it is stored and how it will be used.

Older children may feel able to discuss their situation on their own with the worker. A young person's wish to keep information confidential from parents may be respected by the worker, where this is in the young person's best interests.

What happens next?

Based on the information you and your child provide, the worker can begin to complete an action plan with you and all those who can help your child. This may take place straight away or the worker may need to make some enquiries and contact you again.

Is more support needed?

If the action plan identifies that support is needed from other services, a team around the family (TAF) will be formed.

A TAF is a group of people who regularly meet with you to support your family. They work together with you to ensure all needs are met in a co-ordinated manner. A member of the team around the family may be chosen as lead professional.

Lead professional

The lead professional will keep you informed, listen to your views and support you. They will also bring together all the services supporting your child. You and your child will have a key input into who should be the lead professional.

How is our information used?

The information which you and your child provide will only be shared with your consent. However, there may be times when the people working with you need to share information.

For example:

  • when they need to find out urgently if a child is at risk of harm

  • to help a child who is at risk of harm

  • when an adult is at risk of harm

  • to help prevent or detect a serious crime

How to contact us

To start the EHA process:

If you think an EHA may benefit you and your family, you can contact your midwife, your child's health visitor, children's centre, school or for further advice and support get in touch with our Early Help Helpdesk.

During the EHA process:

Your lead professional is the single point for you to contact if you need advice about your plan or what is happening next. You will be able to agree who this will be at your TAF meeting.

Your lead professional will share their contact details with you so that you can contact them directly.

How to contact us

If you think your family could benefit from early help, you can contact your midwife, your child’s health visitor, children’s centre, school or request support with an Early Help Assessment (EHA)by getting in touch with our helpdesk:

Email: earlyhelpadvice@nctrust.co.uk