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Early Help and Inclusion

This page is currently under construction - more information will be available shortly.

This section aims to provide guidance to the whole range of practitioners working with and supporting vulnerable children, young people and families in Gloucestershire.

Early help and inclusion is a key element of safeguarding and as such is everyone’s responsibility.  While at times it may involve referrals to other agencies, at its heart it is about providing support by practitioners who have an existing, trusted relationship with the child, young person or family in order to intervene early and prevent problems from escalating.

What is Early Help?

"Providing early help is more effective in promoting the welfare of children than reacting later." Working Together (HM Government, 2018)

‘Early Help’ is an umbrella term that describes the work of many agencies engaged with children and families including health services, schools, learning providers, local authorities, voluntary sector, children and family centres, police, housing providers and many others.

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.

There is a large body of evidence on the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) on the health and well-being of children and young people that can persist into adulthood. The more adversity a child experiences the more likely it is to impact upon their mental and physical health. This underlines the importance of early help, particularly through developing positive relationships with trusted adults, which has been shown to build resilience and mitigate the impact of ACE’s on child and adolescent development. It also stresses the importance of whole-family working in early help in order to understand and address ACEs in adults that may impact on their capacity to care for their children.

Early help is about focussing on how we can help people to do things for themselves and build on strengths within families. If we can get this right early on, at the right time, we get the opportunity to help people with areas of their life they may be struggling with, which sets people up for a better long-term future. It is also about providing support at any and every stage of a child’s life: pre-birth, during pregnancy, childhood and/or early adulthood.

Early help means providing support as soon as a problem emerges, at any point in a child’s life, from the foundation years through to the teenage years. Early help can also prevent further problems arising; for example, if it is provided as part of a support plan where a child has returned home to their family from care, or in families where there are emerging parental mental health issues or drug and alcohol misuse.

Effective Early help relies upon local organisations and agencies working together to:

• identify children and families who would benefit from early help.

• undertake an assessment of the need for early help.

• provide targeted early help services to address the assessed needs of a child and their family which focuses on activity to improve the outcomes for the child’.

Effective Early Help

What does effective early help feel like for children and families?

  • We only have to tell our story once.
  • We are listened to, heard and respected at every stage of our journey through early help.
  • We can have early help for the whole family.
  • We can focus on strengths and building resilience.
  • We have a trusted individual in our lives that we can confidently turn to for help when we need it.
  • We are supported to think about what to change and how we might make those changes.

What does effective early help feel like for practitioners?

  • A graduated approach to identify what help the child and family need to prevent needs escalating. 
  • A whole-family approach that addresses the children’s needs in the wider family context. 
  • An assessment plan for a child and family who would benefit from coordinated support from more than one agency. 
  • A multi-disciplinary approach, bringing a range of professional skills and expertise in a Team Around the Family. 
  • Practice which empowers families and helps them to develop the capacity to resolve their own problems. 
  • A relationship with a trusted lead practitioner who coordinates the support needed from other agencies.

The Role of the Local Authority

Under section 10 of the Children Act 2004, Local Authorities have a responsibility to promote inter-agency co-operation to improve the welfare of all children. Local organisations and agencies should have in place effective ways to identify emerging problems and potential unmet needs of children and families.

Multi-agency Community Safety Partnerships (CSP’s) in each District will bring together agencies working with vulnerable families to provide a focus on safeguarding and early help. These partnerships will be supported by the local Families First teams and have the following core aims:

• To support and develop effective joint working between local agencies in order that children and young people are safeguarded and that help is provided at the earliest opportunity.

• To develop a shared understanding of local needs, priorities, and the effectiveness of services in improving outcomes for vulnerable children, young people and families and take action as a locality to address these.

• To identify local opportunities to collaborate, share resources and improve coordination of support so that children, young people and families receive help at the right time and to prevent escalation and requirement for higher level services.

Principles of Early Help

  • Early Help is best provided by someone who has an existing trusted relationship with a child or young person.

  • Seeing the child, young person or family first, not the difficulty.

  • Early Help should support children, young people and families to address needs at the lowest possible level and prevent them from escalating.

  • Children and family feeling listened to and enabled to be part of the solution.

  • A joined-up approach that helps the whole family now and into the future.

  • A reduction in the multiple times families are asked for the same information.

A Graduated Approach

What is the Graduated Pathway?

In Gloucestershire, we are committed to working together and in partnership with all agencies providing services to children, young people and their families.  The Graduated Pathway of Early Help and Targeted Support is our Early Help assessment and planning process which provides an integrated and holistic framework to support all practitioners working with children, young people and families. This applies to the whole range of needs including:

  • Educational.
  • Social or emotional and/or disability.
  • Wider family and environmental.

The Graduated Pathway supports a whole-family approach and is based on a simple Assess, Plan, Do, Review cycle and has graduated responses which can be used as in the diagram below.

Applying a graduated approach

Applying a graduated approach is about providing the right level of support at the right time.  If more or different support is needed, it builds on the support already in place and from the understanding of what has worked/not worked in the past.

This includes:

  • Helping people to help themselves - providing accessible information, advice and support.

  • Understanding the person and being able to apply a person-centred approach.

  • Identifying additional needs early.

  • Using holistic assessment to understand needs and strengths of the whole family that might not be known already.

  • Being committed to work in partnership with all agencies.

  • Listening to parents and carers and involving them as fully as possible.

  • Setting SMART outcomes.

  • Agreeing a plan of action and review date.

  • Involving other practitioners and agencies as needed; Sharing information with consent.

  • Being clear about everyone’s role; Identifying the Lead Practitioner.

  • Reviewing progress - Are outcomes being met?  If not, why not? What needs to change? Do we have all the information we need?

Early Help Pathway

Level of Intervention

In order to understand the level of support required by a child or young person and their family, in Gloucestershire, we use the Gloucestershire Levels of Intervention, which are intrinsically linked to early help and inclusion.

The Gloucestershire Levels of Intervention Guidance document can be found by clicking HERE.

At any time If you think a child or young person is at immediate risk of significant harm, contact the Gloucesterhire Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub on 01452 426565 In an emergency call 999.

Always follow the GCSB Child Protection Process. Discuss concerns with your Supervisor or Designated Safeguarding Lead at all levels.

For more detailed information regarding the Early Help Pathway, please visit the Graduated Pathway Tools, Templates and Support pages by clicking HERE.

Level 1 - Universal

A child with no identified additional needs or needs that can be met by a single agency.

For tools and templates relating to Level 1 within the Early Help Pathway, please click HERE.

Level 2 - Additional

The child’s needs can be met through your agency working jointly with another agency.

For tools and templates relating to Level 2 within the Early Help Pathway, please click HERE.

Level 3 - Intensive

The child’s needs are more complex and require an assessment to understand the range, depth or significance of the needs which may require a more intensive response.

For tools and templates relating to Level 3 within the Early Help Pathway, please click HERE.

Level 4 - Specialist

The child’s needs are complex and enduring and a statutory response is required.

For tools and templates relating to Level 4 within the Early Help Pathway, please click HERE.

Support and Advice for Early Help

Children, young people and families with additional needs will be supported through the use of the Graduated Pathway of Early Help and support.  Early Help Coordinators and Community Social Workers offer advice, guidance and support directly to schools and other agencies.

Direct support to individual children and their families can be provided by Families First, Children and Family Centres and the Youth Support Team.

For Early Help advice, guidance and support, please contact your locality team below:

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


Advice, guidance and support can also be sought from the following teams:

Family Group Conferencing

A Family Group Conference (FGC) brings together family and friends to make decisions and plans for the care, protection and support of a child/young person.

01242 532353                                                                                                                                               

Triple P Parenting

Triple P suggests simple routines and small changes that can make a big difference to a family.  It helps parents to understand the way their family works and uses the things parents already say, think, feel and do in new ways.

01452 427362                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Special Educational Needs and Disability Information Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS) Gloucestershire

SENDIASS Gloucestershire provides information, advice and support on matters relating to children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

01452 389345                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

The Early Years Service

The aim is to improve outcomes and reduce inequalities for all children aged 0-5 years.

01452 427224                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

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