Early Support – The Kirklees Early Support Partnership

Early support and our shared approach to responding to the needs of children, young people and families in Kirklees

“Supporting resilient and confident children, families and communities in Kirklees”

Early support for children and families is more effective and less expensive than intervening when problems become entrenched. Even if early support cannot stop problems escalating, targeted and evidence based support for those at most risk can still make a difference and reduce the need for the high costs of social care involvement and taking children into care.

The Kirklees Early Support Strategy refers to a way of working that means providing interventions early to support and build resilience amongst children, young people and their families – particularly those that may be vulnerable.

Our approach is based on building communities, developing resilience and establishing networks. As well as developing a place based offer around 4 geographical and diverse areas we recognise that some services work best across the authority as a whole. We want to develop a unifying but not uniform offer, reflecting the needs and strengths of young people, families and communities.

The strength of Kirklees is its diversity – the range of partners involved including schools, the voluntary and community sector, faith organisations, health agencies and local authority services.

Kirklees Early Support Partnership Vision

The Kirklees Early Support Partnership has developed a vision of what it is hoping to achieve. It outlines a shared understanding of the key issues and how these can be addressed.

Our aspiration is that our practitioners, irrespective of the nature of their formal positions, develop a shared language and approach to working with families and young people.

We all believe that every child and young person should have the opportunity to reach their full potential and that they are best supported to grow and achieve within their own families and communities. There will always be some children, young people and families that will need support and we are committed to ensuring we work with them to identify their own solutions, building on their strengths. In doing so we will ensure that, where services are needed, they will be flexible to meet children’s and families’ needs.

This approach supports a shift of focus away from short-term crises and towards effective support for children and young people and their families at an earlier stage, with them at the centre of enabling communities rather them being dependent on statutory public services.

We recognise that we engage with children and families in a variety of settings and at different times. Our aspiration is that our practitioners, irrespective of the nature of their formal positions, ensure that the right conversation takes place at the right time with the right people.

Kirklees Early Support Partnership Priorities

Flowing from the Vision a number of priorities have been identified:

  • Help children to live in safe and supportive families
  • Support children, young people and families to be resilient and identify and resolve their own problems before crises occur
  • Ensure all young people, including vulnerable learners, achieve their full potential through improving the quality and range of opportunities for learning and skills development from earliest years to post 16, ensuring they are supported to make appropriate choices and sustain transitions
  • Improve the physical health and mental wellbeing of all
  • Support approaches that help develop communities that facilitate and support parents and families to nurture their children
  • Improve outcomes for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities

Early Support Assessments

Children and families may need support from a wide range of local organisations and agencies. Where a child and family would benefit from co-ordinated support from more than one organisation or agency (e.g. education, health, housing, police) there should be an inter-agency assessment. These early [support] assessments should be evidence-based, be clear about the action to be taken and services to be provided and identify what help the child and family require to prevent needs escalating to a point where intervention would be needed through a statutory assessment under the Children Act 1989. [Working Together 2018]

The Early Support Partnership have developed an assessment tool to assist any professional who is working with children, young people and families. If you identify additional unmet needs for a child that do not require intervention by social workers completing an Early Support Assessment will help your understanding of what support you can offer. It should be used where there are emerging welfare or well-being concerns across a number of agencies and will help to develop a shared understanding of what support will help the family address the concerns and build resilience.

The Early Support Consultants are able to support partners with Early Support Assessments.

Consent

For an early help assessment to be effective it should be undertaken with the agreement of the child and their parents or carers, involving the child and family as well as all the practitioners who are working with them. It should take account of the child’s wishes and feelings wherever possible, their age, family circumstances and the wider community context in which they are living [Working together 2018]

Consent is not only a legal requirement under GDPR but also forms a central plank of our early support approach and practice.

Working with Families

Early support needs to focus on those adverse experiences and help both the child and the parents deal with these. We want to forge a relationship between agencies and children and families so that the emphasis of practice is on working with children and families, rather than doing things to them or for them.  “Working with” involves high support and high challenge so that families have the support they need to find their own lasting solutions to the challenges they face, and are equipped with the resilience to move forward successfully.

We are working towards a position where working with is the default option;  basic entitlement for all children, young people and families who come into contact with services throughout the district, with the child at the heart of decisions that affect them. [Early Support Strategy]

Team Around the Family (TAF)

The provision of Early Support should be done within a structured, evidence-based framework involving regular review to ensure that real progress is being made. [Working together 2018]

Kirklees Early Support Partnership uses the Team Around the Family (TAF) framework to coordinate multi-agency support with families. This framework promotes whole family working and is consistent with the restorative approach of “working with” families and ensuring the voice of the child informs the early support assessment and support that is offered.

The TAF framework has clear timescales for convening the first TAF and for regular reviews.

Current guidance:

  • It is not necessary to wait for a full completion of the assessment for a TAF to be convened if immediate actions can be taken that will ensure the child and family is supported.
  • The timescale for convening of the first TAF is 10 working days following identifying the need to do an Early Support Assessment. The TAF meeting will in most cases contribute to the assessment.
  • The first TAF meeting should agree the Lead Professional and develop the TAF Support Plan with agreed outcomes jointly with the child and family.
  • The TAF Support Plan will be solution focussed and have clear measurable actions agreed and understood by all family members.
  • A critical function of the TAF is to drive progress and ensure outcomes are being achieved. TAF members will be required to deliver relevant aspects of the TAF Support Plan in between TAF meetings. They will be expected to comply with the plan developed and be able to identify their contribution to improving outcomes.
  • The TAF should set a date for a review meeting to take place between 4-6 weeks following the date of the first meeting and at regular 4-6 week intervals thereafter.
  • The TAF should check progress and consider whether actions have been delivered and whether they have been effective in achieving the outcomes agreed at the outset. Barriers to the achievement of progress should be identified and actions reviewed.

Referrals to Family Support & Parenting Service

The Early Support Assessment needs to be seen as a tool in its own right and not a referral mechanism. The completion of an assessment should not become a barrier to accessing support for families however the information required to evidence that more targeted or statutory services are needed will be better informed by a good quality assessment.

The Framework for making safeguarding decisions in Kirklees is a key document for early support professional to make best use of the “conversation opportunities” between professionals.

A strong and simple focus for conversations about need and risk focuses on four simple questions

  1. What are we worried about?
  2. What is working well?
  3. What needs to happen?
  4. How worried are we as a professional network on a scale of 1-10?

The development of the Community Hubs to act as a platform for local agencies to work together provides an ideal arena for regular multi-agency conversations about how to respond to emerging concerns about children and families.

We want to encourage that any referral starts with a conversation prior to sending in a referral form to help inform who is best placed to respond to the concerns.

Local Resources

The paperwork for the Early Support Assessment can be found below.

  • Early Support Partnership Strategy – Early Support and our shared approach to responding to the needs of children, young people and families.
  • Referrers Flowchart Family Support This flowchart will help decide whether a family is suitable for family support
  • Early Support Referral Form If you are a professional and think a family, child or young person needs support from our service we would like you to speak to us first by calling on 01484 456823. Once you have discussed the request and agreed this is an appropriate referral you will then be asked to complete the referral form. (Please use the ‘save as’ option when downloading this form to enable editing).
  • Early-Support-Assessment must be completed as fully as possible from a multi-agency perspective. Consent from the family must be obtained before carrying out an assessment.
    (Please use the ‘save as’ option when downloading this form to enable editing).
  • TAF-Support-Plan outlines the individuals involved in the Team Around the Family (TAF) and the outcomes you want to achieve for the child(ren). Please be clear and SMART in your objectives.
    (Please use the ‘save as’ option when downloading this form to enable editing).
  • TAF: Lead Professional Checklist  (if you would prefer this in Word document format please let us know)

If you need advice or support in completing the assessment you may want to discuss this with an Early Support Consultant. Please contact Early Support to find out who your local consultant is on: 01484 456823

A framework for making safeguarding decisions in Kirklees

A framework for making safeguarding decisions in Kirklees sets out our approach to keeping children in Kirklees safe and protected from harm. The guidance builds on ‘conversations‘ with colleagues from all agencies over many months and in particular the work that has focused on Early Help and Early Support. The guidance is intended to help professionals embed into their practice a restorative and strengths based approach, and is designed to ensure that across the continuum of need professionals consider that the right help is given to the right children at the right time and for the right duration.

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