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Using the Graduated Pathway of Early Help and Support

The Graduated Pathway of Early Help and Targeted Support is Gloucestershire’s Early Help assessment and planning process which provides support to practitioners working with children, young people and families. Applying a graduated approach allows the provision of the right level of support at the right time.

The GSCE Levels of Intervention guidance provides practitioners with guidance and indicators to help make decisions according to the level of need. The guidance is to be used in conjunction with the Graduated Pathway to ensure support is proportionate and at the lowest level of intervention. The Levels of Intervention Guidance can be found online by clicking HERE

Level 1 - Universal: Children or young person (CYP) with no identified additional needs or needs that can be met by universal services; a child with no additional plan in place.

Level 2 - Additional:  The child’s needs can be met through your agency working jointly with another agency. Gain consent of the family to hold a Team Around the Family (TAF) meeting and formulate a My Plan for delivery and review. The Lead Practitioner will coordinate the support.

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; this response can be provided through a My Assessment and subsequent My Plan +.

Level 4 - Specialist: The child’s needs are complex and enduring and a statutory response is required

The Blue Tabs on the left hand side of the page will give you more information about each level and resources to help provide support.

The green drop down menus below provides more information about different aspects of the Graduated Pathway which are key to the success of the process.

Role and Responsibilities of the Lead Practitioner

Any professional can be a lead practitioner and should co-ordinate the delivery of support services.  A GP, Family Support Worker, School Nurse, Teacher, Health Visitor and/or Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) could undertake the lead practitioner role. Decisions about who should be the lead practitioner should be taken on a case-by-case basis and should be informed by the child and their family. This may change over the lifetime of the plan.

The Lead Practitioner should seek consent from the young person and family to develop a graduated, multi agency response. A My Plan or My Assessment and MyPlan+ will be required to provide a holistic, family centred understanding of need. This can also help educational settings to build up a picture of need and support that can be used in the Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). If the needs require a multi-agency response, a Team Around the Child/Family meeting should be convened.

Identifying that a child or young person has additional needs does not necessarily mean that you will become the lead practitioner. There may already be a holistic plan of support in place, or the Team Around the Child/Family meeting (including parent/carer) will agree on the person best placed to support the family. As a Lead Practitioner, you will be responsible for the co-ordination of a multi-agency response. This does not mean that you need to do everything but you will be the main point of contact. Other members of the team around the child/family can take notes, organise the meeting and take away actions as part of the multi agency plan of support (My Plan or My Plan+).

Information Sharing and Consent

Before support is undertaken around any aspect of the Graduated Pathway, informed consent will need to be gained from the young person and family you are working with. Informed consent means the young person and family are able to fully understand the reasons for consent.

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. Families should expect to be told who their information will be passed on to and why; information is shared to enable services to work together to provide the best help and support available to the family. It is important to revisit the consent during the course of your work particularly if new services and organisations start to work with the child, young person or family.

The single consent form can be accessed by clicking HERE

It is important that the families and young people you are working with understand what is on the consent form and what they are agreeing to when they sign it. Young people over the age of 12 who understand the process will be asked to give their own consent for their information to be shared. To support your discussion with parents/young people, Gloucestershire County Council's Information Sharing leaflet can be accessed by clicking HERE.

Sharing information without consent may be necessary if there is a legal duty for information to be shared or the family or young person is at risk of significant harm or crime being committed.  Gloucestershire County Council's Privacy Notices can be found online by clicking HERE.

Further information for practitioners regarding information sharing and consent can be found in the HM Government document Information Sharing Advice for Practitioners. This can be viewed by clicking HERE.

Team Around the Family (TAF) Meetings

  • It is vital that children, young people and their families are at the heart of any conversations and subsequent support offered. Team Around the Child/Family meetings should be as welcoming and inclusive as possible – practitioners avoiding jargon and being prepared to listen as well as contribute. The multi agency My Plan/My Plan+ should be developed with the child and family so that they have ownership of the plan.

  • All partner agencies involved in supporting the child, young person or family should have the opportunity to contribute to the multi agency Team Around the Child/Family meeting. Effective sharing of information between practitioners and local organisations and agencies is essential for early identification of need, assessment and service provision to keep children safe. Serious case reviews have highlighted that missed opportunities to record, understand the significance of and share information in a timely manner can have severe consequences for the safety and welfare of children.

  • If advice and guidance is required around managing the risks within the family and/or escalating need, you can ask a Community Social Worker to attend the Team Around the Child/Family meeting. Support will be provided to the Team around the child/family group to assess and manage the risk for the child and family, or to escalate concerns where it is decided to refer into Children’s Social Care for specialist support.

  • Continue to review the plan that is in place for the child, young person and family. If progress isn’t being made then refer to the Early Help pathway and Levels of Intervention Guidance.

When coordinating a Team Around the Family meeting, you may wish to use the following documents:

TAF Top Tips

TAC/TAF Invitation letter

TAC/TAF Meeting Format Template

Listening to Children

‘Children and young people have the right to say what should happen and to have their opinions taken into account when adults are making decisions that affect them’.  Article 12 - United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Working Together to Safeguard Children (HM Government, 2018) emphasises the importance of involving children, ensuring that their voice is heard and that the appropriate support is provided to enable this where the child has specific communication needs.  Organisations and agenices should have arrangements in place that reflect the importance of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, including a culture of listening to children and taking account of their wishes and feelings, both in individual decisions and the development of services.

Listening to children in order to gain and understand their lived experience is paramount in identifying their needs in order to ensure a graduated approach. There are many ways in which we can achieve this, including the use of direct work tools such as My Profile, My Journey, Buttons Genogram, Blob Tree, Progress Chart.  These tools can be found within the Direct Work Tools and Resources section of the directory, which can be accessed by clicking HERE.

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