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Early Help Funding

Early Help Funding is a small resource of money available across the county to support Lead Practitioners in the community to be creative with commissioning services for children and young people in order to meet short term needs identified in a My Plan or My Plan+.

It is expected that before submitting a request for funding, a practitioner will have explored universal services in their community as well as other funding streams such as Pupil Premium, charity funding, grants and parental contribution and that this is going to be sustainable.

Early Help Funding can commission bespoke services for children not readily available, or can be used to purchase something essential for a child’s wellbeing that will make a difference in their lives. 

For further information regarding the Early Help Funding process, please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions and Guidance Notes which can be found in the green drop-downs below.

In addition, we are able to consider applications for the Free Hospital Trust Fund for those children and young people with a My Plan/+.  This funding can be used for clothing, shoes and bedding.  For further information can be found within the green drop-down below.

Frequently Asked Questions

When can a Lead Practitioner consider making a request for funding?

A Lead Practitioner can consider making a request for Early Help funding when:

  • The child/young person has an up-to-date and holistic My Plan or My Plan+.
  • Needs, actions and outcomes have been identified with the child/young person and their family and a service/item has been identified which is felt will meet a remaining need.
  • Notification of the existing My Plan/My Plan+ has been sent to your local Early Help Co-ordinators using the Notification Form, which can be found by clicking HERE.
  • When parents or carers are unable to fund part or all of the costs of the service/item.
  • When charity funding has been sought and is unavailable.
  • When other resourcing has been explored but is not possible to meet all of the costs e.g. Pupil Premium, Free Hospital Trust Fund, grants etc.

What do Lead Practitioners also need to consider?

When considering making a request for Early Help Funding the Lead Practitioner must also consider:

  • Whether the service being commissioned is sustainable as the funding resource is limited, and build in an exit strategy to the commissioned support.
  • How the service will be reviewed to show what impact it has had for the child/young person/family.
  • Whether the service/item being commissioned will help achieve the identified outcomes and is the best and most suitable intervention for the child/young person/family.

What amount of funding can a Lead Practitioner request?

A Lead Practitioner can submit a request for funding for up to £350 per child per financial year without the agreement of a multi-agency group, although it is always recommended that spends are discussed within Team Around the Family meetings to ensure all interventions have been explored.

A Plan agreed by professionals during a Team Around the Family meeting including three different agenices can request over the £350 limit and up to £1000 per child/young person per financial year.  It is expected that a request to commission a service will be informed by the relevant professionals involved in supporting the family and will be agreed by the child/family.

When will a decision about the request be made?

All requests for Early Help Funding will be considered at a panel meeting every Monday morning.  Using the information provided by the Lead Practitioner on the Early Help Funding Request Form, the panel will be able to make a devision about allocating the money requested and will respond to the Lead Practitioner within 48 hours.

If the request is declined by the panel, a Senior Early Help Co-ordinator will contact the Lead Practitioner to explain why and liaise with the Early Help Co-ordinator in the appropriate locality to offer support with alternative funding options or other ways to meet the identified need.

When do Service Delivery Agreements and Invoices need to be completed?

As all requests for Early Help Funding are considered at the panel meeting, it is important that Service Delivery Agreements and Invoices are not raised before a decision is made and you have been notified of the agreement.  The Lead Practitioner would be liable for any spend commissioned before agreement from the Early Help Funding panel.

How can Early Help Funding be used?

In Gloucestershire, we believe that families are best supported by those who are already working with or known to them, with additional support from local partners and professionals as needed.  Help should be provided through existing services where appropriate, or can be commissioned to support specific identified needs on a My Plan/My Plan+.  The expectation is that a funding request will specify how additional interventions will meet the identified family needs thus contributing to improved outcomes.  We ask that practitioners also consider what the next steps will be for the young person(s) as this funding can only provide short-term support.  The funding that Lead Practitioners can access allows for creative Early Help interventions that can be tailored to meet the needs of children and young people.

When is Early Help Funding not appropriate?

Early Help Funding is not appropriate:

  • As a resource to meet educational needs (such as ICT equipment to access curriculum at home if a young person is unable to attend their educational setting; to pay for private tutoring; to cover the cost of damage to school property).
  • As a resource to meet health needs (such as private physiotherapy); these can be met through health services.
  • For long-term provision.  As there is very limited funding available, this resource is purposeful for a specific short-term intervention or when a service that is ongoing will be sustainable through another way.
  • For services or goods which are identified to meet an adults' needs such as white goods (washing machines, fridges etc.), carpets, adult education courses etc.
  • For commissioning family support in the home.  This can be accessed through a variety of different agencies including Families First, Children & Family Centres, CCP, Home Start etc.

Are there any examples of Early Help Funding, which has been agreed and had a positive impact?

The following is not an exhaustive list, but some examples of Early Help Funding, which have been agreed and had a positive impact for the child/young person/family include:

  • A Worry Monster or Worry Box to help a child manage feelings of anxiety.
  • Alarm clocks to help a young person to manage their sleeping/waking routines.
  • A journal to allow a child to record their feelings and express themselves.
  • Noise reducing headphones to help manage crowds.
  • Summer holiday activity day provision with a youth club that allows a child/young person with challenging behaviour to have supervised play and her parent to have quality time with her sibling.
  • A Lead Practitioner identifies a group of young people in a school who all have similar needs around bereavement (for example) and block commissions some therapeutic activity provision to help them process their feelings.
  • Commissioning of a mentor to do some structured 1-2-1 work in the community with a young person who engages in anti-social behaviour and is at risk of grooming by a local gang.
  • A one-off payment for bedding for a young person who has moved with his mum from a hostel into a flat.
  • A door alarm to alert the household if a bedroom door is opened.

Who can provide advice regarding Early Help Funding?

Guidelines for completing an Early Help Funding request along with the Request for Spend Forms can be found within the relevant green drop-downs within this page.

For advice on what might be an appropriate use of Early Help Funding, or if you need support with the process, please contact an Early Help Co-ordinator in the appropriate locality, using the contact details below:

Cheltenham 01452 328160
Cotswolds 01452 328101
Forest of Dean 01452 328048
Gloucester 01452 328076
Stroud 01452 328130
Tewkesbury 01452 328251

Guidance Notes

For support in completing an Early Help Funding application, please refer to the Guidance Notes which can be accessed by clicking HERE.

Early Help Funding – HMRC IR35 (Off-payroll working) rules for clients, workers (contractors) and their intermediaries

Commissioning children services through the Early Help Funding budget, when Lead Practitioners engage with a service provider does HMRC IR35 (off-payroll working) rules apply for clients, workers (contractors) and their intermediaries?

The Check Employment Status for Tax (CEST) tool can be used to find out if a worker on a specific engagement should be classed as employed or self-employed for tax purposes.

Further guidance can be found online by clicking HERE.

When your Early Help Funding Request has been approved:

  • Before engaging with the Service Provider, the Lead Practitioner is to check if IR35 (off-payroll working) rules apply as it is yourself who is engaging with the Service Provider.
  • If it does apply, the outcome result is to be given to the finance department when paying the invoice.

Early Help Funding Request Forms

Recording spends and receipts

Service Delivery Agreements

Free Hospital Trust Funding Application Forms

For FHTF criteria and non Early Help Assessment application forms and processes please click HERE and go to the Practitioner information area at the bottom of the page.  Please note, you will need to be registered and signed in as a practitioner in order to view this information. 

Guidelines for completing application forms

FHTF Application Form - Cheltenham

FHTF Appication Form - Cotswolds

FHTF Application Form - Forest of Dean

FHTF Application Form - Gloucester

FHTF Application Form - Stroud

FHTF Application Form - Tewkesbury


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