Everyone knows that a little bit of help at the right time can make all the difference. Early help is all about providing that help to families who, for whatever reason, find that they’re struggling. It’s important that families know that it’s ok to ask for help. Raising a family is a difficult job and it’s a sign of strength, not weakness, to look for help to get back on track.
Providing help as soon a problem emerges, at any stage of a child or young person’s life, stops that problem escalating and is much more effective than reacting to it later on.
Early help applies to the period from before a baby is born right up to age 25, and that help could be related to any aspect of life. That help might take the form of simply sign-posting to information and advice. Or, it might mean organising some more practical help, whether that’s parenting support, help with benefits or housing.
Organisations involved in Early Help
There are all sorts of organisations and agencies involved in early help, including the County Council, district councils, health, police and schools.
It works best when all those organisations are working together with families. The first step is often when a professional identifies a young person who may benefit from some support. But more and more we want to encourage families to approach professions themselves when they think there’s a need, whether that’s teacher, a GP or a youth worker.
Early Help Assessment documentation is shared across all the agencies, meaning that people shouldn’t have to tell their stories more than once. The whole process starts with a conversation that aims to capture what’s going well, what could be going better, and what issues are most important to you and your family. The resulting early help plan should be coordinated across all those involved and help families and communities develop the capabilities to prevent and resolve problems themselves.