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Early Help, Thresholds of Need & FCAF

Providing early help is more effective in promoting the welfare of children than reacting later. 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 prevent further problems from arising and relies on local organisations 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 

Local authorities (section 10, Children Act 2004) have a responsibility to promote inter-agency co-operation to improve the welfare of all children. Local organisations should have effective processes to identify emerging problems for children and their families. Local authorities should work with organisations to develop joined-up early help services based on local needs.

Practitioners in all universal and specialist adult and children services should be trained together to understand:

  • the symptoms and triggers of abuse and neglect
  • how to identify problems 
  • how to share information and provide children with the help they need
  • new and emerging threats, including online abuse, grooming, sexual exploitation and radicalisation

Practitioners should, in particular, be alert to the potential need for early help for a child who:

  • is disabled and has specific additional needs
  • has special educational needs (whether or not they have a statutory Education, Health and Care Plan)
  • is a young carer
  • is showing signs of being drawn into anti-social or criminal behaviour
  • is frequently missing/goes missing from care or from home
  • is at risk of modern slavery, trafficking or exploitation
  • is at risk of being radicalised or exploited
  • is in a family circumstance with e.g. drug and alcohol misuse, adult mental health issues and domestic abuse
  • is misusing drugs or alcohol themselves
  • has returned home to their family from care
  • is a privately fostered child

The Family Common Assessment Framework (FCAF) enables us to assess all family members so that we can identify the right support for families and work together with other professionals to support them. The FCAF is used across children's services, adults' services and other agencies working with families throughout the city.

National guidance:

Sheffield guidance & resources:

Training:

Early Help and FCAF training is provided through your local Multi-Agency Support Team. Contact details are here: Family Common Assessment Framework Resources

Other relevant information can be found on this website here: Information and resources or in the index on the left side of this page.

If you are concerned about a child or young person, follow this link: Referring a safeguarding concern to Children’s Social Care

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