Early Help is about identifying children and families who might need some extra help and supporting them to access this through a trusted professional. It's also about ensuring that the help they receive is the best it can be and well coordinated. it is not primarily about safeguarding, but it might be.
The Early Help Hub
In Doncaster we've established a multi-agency Early Help Hub to provide a single point of contact for people. The hub provides information, advice and guidance; and checks to see if the family is already receiving help or whether they need a coordinated response managed by a lead professional. The hub team then identify the best person to lead the support for a family. Very occasionally the team may be concerned about the welfare of a child or young person and will refer the family to the Children's Social Services.
The Early Help Coordinators
In addition to establishing the hub we've also appointed Early Help Coordinators. Their job is to help professionals to understand the early help processes, documents, systems and check on the quality of early help assessments. They are employed by DMBC but work for every single partner through the Early Help Implementation Task Group (a small group of staff making sure this approach works in Doncaster).
Who actually delivers early help?
Before children are born they are known to General Practitioners, midwives and health visitors. Every child is known to these services and they act as the guardians of early help in these early days. We all rely on these professionals to identify and seek help on behalf of families.
Children Centres also play a critical role in supporting families, especially the pre-birth to two-year-old. Supporting these professionals is one of the primary aims of the Team Doncaster partnership, because without them we will always struggle to intervene early.
As children grow older, most will access education from the age of three (and vulnerable children from age two) and stay within universal services until they are eighteen. Young people who are disabled or have special educational needs will also continue to access services post 18 and until they are 25.
When children and young people are in nursery or school they have contact with professionals for several hours every day. Therefore, another one of our joint priorities is to provide excellent training, supervision and advice to early years providers, schools and academies so that these professionals are well supported.
Family Support Workers, employed by DMBC and DCST provide only a small proportion of the support that families receive; but often they are seen as the 'Early Help Service'. They are not the only service; they do however form an important part of a bigger group of people, including volunteers, who provide support to families.
You can read more about Early Help in Doncaster by reading our strategy
- Multi-Agency Early Help Strategy
- Download (6.85MB)
Information for families about Early Help Services can be accessed below
- Early Help Family Guide 2016
- Download (577KB)
Further advice and information for professionals
- Early Help Handbook
- Download (1.71MB)