The Early Help & Family Support Panels have now been in place for a year - meeting on a regular basis across the County (click here to Early Help & Family Support Panels page on the LSCB website). The purpose of the panels is to extend the level of multi-agency response where a family need support to overcome existing challenges that adversely impact on children and young people within it. An Early Help Assessment (EHA) should be the first level of assessment to identify which services would be best involved to bring about the level of change necessary. The Team Around the Family (TAF) should review the plan on a regular basis to identify levels of change and where it is felt that progress is slow or 'stuck' the referral to the Early Help & Family Support Panel will help to identify further services to support the family network.
Recent updates to the process
- The referral form for submission to the panel has been improved to capture a wider range of information to better aid discussion at panel (referral form).
- There is soon to be an information leaflet for families to explain about the panels, who the members might be and what the possible outcomes are. This should be given to all parents, carers and where relevant the young people themselves when consent is gained to refer to panel. This will be available on the LSCB Early Help & Family Support Panel page with the referral form.
- The panels are to consider ways of maintaining the response to a family at an Early Help stage by identifying other services to support them. The panel will consider any additional information that panel members may bring to aid the discussion. Following discussion at panel if it is felt that the level of need meets the threshold for statutory assessment - Stepping Up to CIN or CP - the Social Work manager in attendance can authorise this at the meeting and take the referral directly back to the appropriate district team.
- If in working with a family a professional believes that the level of risk meets the threshold for statutory (CIN/CP) assessment they should contact the Safeguarding Hub. Where there is an EHA in place and where the hub decide that the level of concern is felt not to meet the threshold for a statutory assessment, the referrer will be advised to seek consent from the family to make a referral to the Early Help Panel in their area to explore further levels of support to their community. The referrer would then contact the Early Help Officer within their district to discuss the referral to the Early Help Panel. If the family do not consent to this the TAF should re-assess the level of risk given this level of non-compliance, which may need a re-referral to the Safeguarding Hub, upon which it is important the TAF assessment in response to non-consent is shared with the Hub.
- If you contact the Safeguarding Hub with a concern about a child and it does not meet the threshold for statutory assessment (CIN/CP) and there is no EHA in place the referrer will be advised to seek consent from the family to initiate one.