‘Early Help’ is an umbrella term that describes the work of many agencies engaged with children and families (NHS, schools, learning providers, voluntary sector, police, housing providers). We are all engaged to a greater or lesser extent in work that seeks to avert a problem developing and preventing difficulties from escalating or the deterioration of circumstances which could adversely affect children, young people and families.
Early Help is the right help at the right time. It’s about identifying problems at an early stage and providing purposeful and effective help as soon as possible to prevent those problems escalating and becoming more complex to resolve. Early Help can be offered to children and young people aged 0-19 (25 SEND) and to families and parents:
- so that problems don’t arise in the first place (prevention)
- so that problems are dealt with early (early intervention)
- so that we support children, young people and their families when they are more vulnerable and have more complex or longer-lasting needs e.g. SEND
The Graduated Pathway is Gloucestershire’s response to ensuring Early Help is available to all children, young people and their families with additional needs, whether these are educational, social or emotional needs or a disability.
Before you can undertake any aspect of the Graduated Pathway you will need to gain informed consent from the family or the young person if they are able to fully understand the reasons for consent. There is a consent form on the Information for Practitioners section of Families Information Service website. The Consent form needs to be explained to the parents/young person and then signed by them to show that they consent to information being shared. It is important to revisit the consent during the course of your work particularly if new services/organisations start to work with the child/young person/family. It is important that the families/young people you are working with understand what is on the consent form and what they are agreeing to when they sign it.
The Graduated Pathway is based on a simple Assess, Plan, Do, Review cycle and has the following graduated responses which can be used in any order depending on what would best meet the needs of the child or young person:
My Profile – A My profile can be completed with any child even if there are no concerns about the child’s wellbeing or development. The My Profile helps a child or young person to share personal information which can help professionals working with them to understand what motivates them, their preferences, their goals and their self-image. It can also help professionals to understand what form of communication is most meaningful to the child or young person.
My Plan – A My Plan is used when it is clear what the presenting needs are and who or what can help. It is a holistic child or family centred plan and can be used as a single or multi-agency plan. The My Plan should draw together existing information to identify the current needs and set out the outcomes to be achieved. The My Plan allows professionals working with children and families to quickly and simply draw together an action plan to co-ordinate the appropriate help and support for the child and/or family at the earliest opportunity.
My Assessment and My Plan + - this should be considered where needs are unclear and the impact is unknown; where there is already a significant impact which is likely to escalate; and where it is unclear what or who may help. The My Assessment focusses on listening to the child/young person and their family in order to understand what is happening for them and what they need to help them make positive changes. My Assessment draws together information from a range of professionals into one document so that a detailed analysis can be made and an action plan can be developed. The ‘Analysis of Assessment’ form can be used to gather information from other Professionals in a timely manner.
The My Plan + is the Plan developed from the My Assessment. The ‘+’ indicates to other professionals that an assessment has been completed to ensure there is not duplication of work and that the family do not have to tell their story repeatedly. The My Assessment and My Plan + must be completed together with the family so that they can be empowered to make changes for themselves.
Radar Chart - The Radar Charts should be used in conjunction with the My Plan/My Assessment to help a family think about their current situation and identify the areas where they may need support. It can help a family to see what is going well and identify and prioritise areas of need. There are 2 separate Radar Charts: one for use with children/young people; and the other for parents/carers and professionals. The Radar Charts can be used to gather information to inform a My Plan or My Assessment and when gathering information at Review. It can be used to document distance travelled and can be accompanied by the Progress Charts to track the changes that have been made by the family over time. The Radar Charts should be used at every stage of the Graduated Pathway and during the Review process.
An Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan) – an EHC Plan is a statutory plan that has replaced a Statement of SEN. An EHC Plan may be needed when a child or young person’s educational needs cannot be met within existing additional resource already delegated to the school. The Local Authority assesses this need based on the evidence provided. Evidence can be provided using the Graduated Pathway and principles of Assess, Plan, Do & Review. If you have completed a My Assessment for a whole family and an individual child requires an EHC Plan you do not need to complete a separate assessment as long as the My Assessment and My Plan + includes all the evidence required relating to the individual child’s education and learning.
Single Assessment – If a referral is made to Social Care, they may undertake an Assessment of Need to help them make a decision about what happens next. This looks at the developmental needs of a child/young person, the family’s strengths in managing the difficulties they may be experiencing, and any support they may already have in place.
If you are clear about the presenting needs, their impact and what or who may be able to help with these, proceed with a My Plan.
If needs are unclear; impact unknown; already having a significant impact which is likely to escalate; unclear what or who may help; and further information is needed, proceed to a My Assessment.
We would always advocate a holistic approach to identifying and meeting needs of children and their families. If however you need additional support and advice you can contact:
Families First Plus Teams – Families First Plus are multi-disciplinary teams based in each locality
Within the Families First Plus teams you will find:
Community Social Workers -qualified Social Workers who work with professionals to assist them in managing risk. Community Social Workers can attend and advise with Team Around the Child/Family meetings, attend home visits with the Lead Practitioner, help to build chronologies and employ the Gloucestershire Levels of Intervention The levels of intervention provide practitioners with guidance about making decisions according to the level of need. It aims to make sure the appropriate level of support will be put in place to ensure that a child or young person’s needs are met in a robust and timely way.
Early Help Co-ordinators - support practitioners with the Graduated Pathway of Early Help and Support. Early Help Co-ordinators have good links with their communities and their Lead Practitioners and can help to bring providers together to meet the child, young person or the family’s needs. Early Help Co-ordinators can support Lead Practitioners through all aspects of Early Help.
Other Professionals Available to Help:
SEND Early Help Advisors –support and advise parents/carers, professionals, practitioners, early years providers, and schools in order to promote inclusion, raise aspirations and improve outcomes for children with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND).
Advisory Teachers - specialist support for children requiring support to access educational. Advisory teachers help children and young people participate and achieve in all aspects of life by developing the skills of the individual and those of their families, schools and settings through collaborative working in which the voice of the child is paramount.
Educational Psychology Service –a comprehensive psychology service for children, young people and their families. The educational psychologists use their knowledge of psychology, child development and social interaction to promote young people's development, learning and well-being (0 - 25 years).
SEN Monitoring and School Support Team - fulfils the Local Authority’s statutory responsibilities in monitoring the provision in place for, and the progress made by, children and young people with SEND. The team monitors and supports schools’ implementation of the SEND Code of Practice and Gloucestershire’s Graduated Pathway.
Education, Performance and Inclusion Team – The Education Performance and Inclusion Team are comprised of the following:
- Strategic Leads are responsible for the strategic co-ordination of challenge, support, intervention and prevention in schools in order to help ensure the best academic outcomes, reduce exclusions and improve attendance. Each Strategic Lead is responsible for a geographical area.
- Education Advisers (formerly School Intervention Advisers) act as project leads in schools as well as supporting other school improvement activities. They have a key role in working with Ofsted inspectors, supporting school networks, clusters and partnerships. Each adviser has responsibility for an aspect including areas such as: exclusions, Elective Home Education, closing the gap.
- Inclusion Advisers have particular responsibility for attendance and exclusions and working collaboratively with colleagues across children’s services to support early help for vulnerable children and young people.
- Parent Advisers are responsible for providing advice and support for parents relating to admissions, attendance and exclusions, particularly those who are hard to reach. They also provide advice on accessing Early Help.
Health Visiting Team – provide expert advice, support and interventions to all families with children in the first years of life. They are uniquely placed to identify the needs of individual children, parents and families (including safeguarding needs) and refer or direct them to existing local services, thereby promoting early intervention
School Nursing Team - provide a public health nursing service for school-aged children and young people in community settings. They work in teams providing support for all children and their families in schools and local communities.
2gether Children and Young People Service (Formerly known as CAMHS) - CYPS provide mental health services to children and young people aged 0-18 years and their families/carers that live in Gloucestershire. They work in partnership with schools, GPs, health and social care and other services supporting children and young people.
Speech and Language Therapy (Children) - The Speech and Language Therapy service is a countywide specialist service for children & young people aged 0-18 and their families and carers. They support difficulties with speech, language, communication, feeding or swallowing.
Children’s Physiotherapy - supporting children & young people with a range of conditions by providing them and their families with support, advice and physical intervention to promote optimum outcomes for the child and their family
Children’s Occupational Therapy Service - addresses the needs of children/young people who have difficulties managing their activities of daily living and developing functional skills such as bathing, showering, toileting, dressing, eating: these are known as Occupational Performance Issues (OPIs).
For more details on each of the teams mentioned above please refer to the Graduated Pathway for Early Help Guidance book.
Early Help Partnerships have been developed within each locality across Gloucestershire. The Early Help Partnerships build on existing arrangements and services already in place, working to share resources and reshape service delivery to meet the local needs of children, young people and their families. All practitioners working with children, young people and their families form part of the wider early help partnership within each geographical area.
Each Partnership operates a fortnightly Allocations Group that is administered locally by Families First Plus teams. These are made up of representatives of services across the locality who use their knowledge and expertise to identify early help interventions that are available and make decisions about who is best placed to offer support to the child and/or family or to the Lead Practitioner.
Support can be accessed by completing the Request for Support Form with the family, and sending it with a signed Consent form to your local Early Help Partnership which will be responded to by via your local Families First Plus Team:
- Cheltenham: firstname.lastname@example.org 01452 328160
- Cotswolds: email@example.com 01452 328101
- Forest of Dean: firstname.lastname@example.org 01452 328048
- Gloucester: email@example.com 01452 328076
- Stroud: firstname.lastname@example.org 01452 328130
- Tewkesbury: email@example.com 01452 328250
TAC and TAF meetings are used to bring together the children, family and professionals working on a plan to look at the needs, think about who is best placed to carry out the actions identified and to review the progress at regular intervals. Each TAC/TAF will have a Chair who helps everyone to work together during the meeting and ensure the views of the child, young person and family are central to the discussion and decisions made, agree on the outcomes to be achieved and invite ideas from the team on how best to deliver them. At the first TAC/TAF a Lead Practitioner will be identified, if not already in place. Everyone involved in the TAC works together to make a positive difference to the child/young person and families outcomes.
There are many factors to consider in deciding who should take the Lead Practitioner role. Children and families should always be asked who they would like to act in this role for them; who has a positive relationship with the family? Who has most contact with the family? The LP role can change throughout the lifetime of the plan depending on the presenting needs.
Why do I notify the Early Help Partnerships (via Families First Plus) when I am working on a My Plan or My Assessment and My Plan + with a child and family?
The local authority, together with partners across Education, Health, Care, Police, Housing and the voluntary & community sectors must work together to provide a cohesive Early Help offer to children and their families but we cannot know the extent to which agencies are providing Early Help unless we are notified. Notifying us helps us link practitioners together if more than one agency is involved with the same child. This promotes information sharing and avoids unnecessary duplication.
No, the plan is very similar: the + just denotes that it followed an assessment. Continue until needs are met and plan ends.
The Information for Practitioners webpages have been developed by the Family Information Service and this is where you will be able to access all the tools, templates and guidance notes to support your work. To find the Information for Practitioners pages please use this link: http://www.glosfamiliesdirectory.org.uk/kb5/gloucs/glosfamilies/family.page?familychannel=3
To register to access additional information within the Information for Practitioners webpages that is not available to the general public, please follow this link: http://www.glosfamiliesdirectory.org.uk/kb5/gloucs/glosfamilies/site.page?id=hwN-Vz4Cv7s
What financial support will be available to support Children/Young People and Families within the Graduated Pathway?
BHLP - we are currently reviewing the process and exploring how the Early Help Allocations Group can be involved in managing their local budget. This will help to develop a partnership decision making approach to supporting children and families. Current processes for accessing BHLP will remain in place until this review is completed.
Early Years Multi-Agency Planning Group funding – short term funding for pre-school settings to support children with SEN to be included and to achieve in universal settings.
Gloucestershire Individual Pupil Resource Allocation – this is a pilot until December 2016 for schools to request additional resource to meet the needs of children with SEN who do not have EHC/Statement of SEN.
Personal Budgets - A Personal Budget is funding to meet the assessed needs of a child/young person with a diagnosed special educational need or disability and may be available to meet education, health and/or social care needs. Personal Budgets can promote creative support planning and allow young people and/or their parents/carers to have more say in the provision used to support them. There is however a range of other support to assist meeting need, e.g. GCC has already commissioned a range of other support through various partners in the community which will support disabled children.
For more information on Personal SEN Budgets, please follow link https://search3.openobjects.com/mediamanager/gloucs/glosfamilies/files/gcc_1188_personal_sen_budgets_a5-v2_final.pdf
For more information on DCYPS Personal Budgets, please follow link http://www.glosfamiliesdirectory.org.uk/kb5/gloucs/glosfamilies/service.page?id=25QQwl8zA8&&newfamilychannel=0
For more information on Personal Health Budgets, please visit https://www.personalhealthbudgets.england.nhs.uk/About/faqs/
The DCYPS do not take direct referrals. All disabled children and young people without an immediate safeguarding concern/risk would be presented at the Early Help Partnership Allocations meeting to ensure support offered is inclusive and that all support available has been considered before moving towards a personal budget or other support from the DCYPS.
Practitioners will not be expected to transfer children's existing assessment and plans onto new paperwork until the next review of their current plan when a new My Plan + (action plan section) should be completed and held alongside the former My Plan + / assessment paperwork. You will not need to complete a new assessment unless you feel this is appropriate but you will need to use the My Plan/My Plan + paperwork for all new plans and at review for existing plans.
We are moving to a new IT system that has been designed to meet all needs around Early Help. It will manage the requests for support for the Early Help Partnership allocations meetings, record all Early Help Plans and Assessments and provide a case management system. We are currently in the process of building the IT system and trialling the first phase with an identified group of practitioners.
Egress Switch – this is the preferred method of sending information securely. If you do not have access to egress switch you can get it here: https://switch.egress.com/ui/signin.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fui%2fadmin
Post – double enveloped and registered post
Document encryption – File; Save as; Tools (at bottom of box); insert a password in the ‘Password to Modify’ box; Click ‘Protect document’; ok; save
What if needs escalate and require a statutory response, e.g. Single Assessment/Education Health and Care (EHC)Plan?
Your My Plan or My Assessment & My Plan+ should be shared with relevant practitioners. Where possible, needs should be incorporated into one plan. However, we know that this is not always possible, particularly where plans are reviewed yearly. It is acceptable to have a My Plan or My Plan+ running alongside a statutory plan as long as these are shared and reviewed jointly. If the statutory plan does not include all the needs you have identified, work with the Lead Practitioner to look at how these can be included.
If a child, young person or family you are working with becomes subject to a Social Care intervention, you should ensure that the Social Worker is aware of your involvement. At a joint review meeting organised by the Social Worker, the support that is currently being offered to the child/young person or family will be discussed as well as new or additional support. It is important that while a Single Assessment is being completed, the support you are offering a family does not stop. The social worker will always be the Lead Practitioner for a child with a Single Assessment however you may still lead on the actions which have been identified for you to complete. You may still have a My Plan/My Plan + running alongside the Social Care intervention and this should be reviewed jointly with the Social Worker to ensure the needs are being met.
If a child has an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan there may be a My Plan or a My Plan+ running alongside it, which looks at more immediate outcomes and support that may need to evolve more quickly. You will need to review this more regularly than the EHC Plan to ensure outcomes are being achieved and that the plan continues to reflect the needs of the child/young person and/or their family. At the joint statutory review which will generally take place once a year, you will be able to update the EHC Plan with the information you have gained during your regular My Plan/My Plan + reviews.
For further information on the training workshops outlined below please see the Information for Practitioners webpages.
Graduated Pathway for Early Help and Support Awareness sessions – 2 hour session for practitioners to explain the developed Graduated Pathway as well as the supporting tools, key principles of the early help approach and to give you opportunity to ask any questions you may have. To book a place on one of these sessions that are being held on 7th March 2-4pm and 27th April 10-2pm. Please call Pat Fleming or Claire Vella on 01452 328076/2071 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a booking form.
Assessment and Analysis Workshop - Thinking creatively about how to gather, interpret and analyse information to produce accurate and family friendly assessments to support children, young people and their families.
This training workshop encourages professionals to reflect on the way information is gathered, analysed and interpreted in order to produce meaningful assessments for the children and families they work with. This module demonstrates how using the Graduated Pathway of Early Help can support families with additional needs. This training workshop is aimed at all practitioners and encourages group discussion and collaborative working as a key element of the learning process.
Outcomes Focussed Planning Workshop - This training will enable practitioners to support families and work with partner agencies around completing child and family plans.
This workshop is designed to give practitioners the opportunity to explore why plans are so important in supporting work with children, young people and their families as well as partnership working with other agencies and professionals. The workshop will focus on giving practitioners the skills and confidence needed to identify the most pressing needs, together with the actions required to improve outcomes for families.
Chronologies and Genograms Workshop - This training will help practitioners to understand what chronologies and genograms are, and look at the role they play in helping us to explore and understand the child, young person and their family’s story.
This workshop will enable practitioners to explore the benefits of using both traditional and creative tools to gain a deeper understanding of a child and family’s history and the events which may have impacted their lives. Sharing the learning from Serious Case Reviews, we explore the importance of using these tools to gain a holistic understanding of the wider picture, and how gathering ‘every bit of information helps’. This interactive training package will provide practitioners with practical guidance to formulate chronologies and genograms and explore how these tools can improve and enhance your practice.
Listening to Children Workshop - To explore the importance of listening to children and young people and how we can gain their views in order to inform and shape assessments, plans and team around the family meetings.
This workshop is designed to gain a deeper understanding of the key legislation and guidance around supporting children and young people to have a voice. The training explores the use of a range of practical tools and methods that can be used by practitioners to support their work and enhance good practice.
Team around the Child/Family Workshop - Enabling practitioners to feel confident participating in and chairing Team Around the Child/Family meetings as a means to support a proactive and multi agency Early Help response. The workshop will help practitioners to understand the crucial role they play at these meetings and how to lead and manage them effectively.
This workshop will identify when a Team Around the Child/Family meeting can be used to meet the needs of a child and family, supported by a multi-agency group of professionals. The training will provide knowledge of the roles and responsibilities of the lead practitioner in convening and structuring the meetings and the importance of regular reviewing, as well as tools that can be used to ensure that families remain at the heart of the process.
Creative Ways of Meeting Needs Workshop - Identifying creative and collaborative ways of meeting needs
This workshop will examine the different ways of meeting the needs of children, young people and their families using a range of resources available in the community, in addition to those within the family. Through the use of interactive case studies and practical examples, we will explore how needs can be met in a creative way and consider when it may be appropriate to use specific sources of funding to further compliment a package of support in place and provide additional resource. Reference is made to the Early Help Partnership, Information for Practitioners available through Family Information Service and the Graduated Pathway of Early Help throughout.
My Journey is a document developed by the Young Ambassadors to help children/young people understand their plans and have them written in a way that will help them focus on the outcomes to be achieved. By working with a child/young person on their My Journey, you will be able to help them make sense of what is going on for them and find ways of working with them that will empower them to make positive changes for the future. You can find the My Journey templates at: http://gloucestershirechildcare.proceduresonline.com/search_site.php?zoom_query=journey&x=0&y=0