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1.1.4 Early Help / Common Assessment Framework


  1. Introduction – What is Early Help?
  2. Assessing Children and Families with Additional Needs

1. Introduction – What is Early Help?

The basic needs of most children can be met through a range of universal services, including education, early years, health, housing, youth services, leisure facilities and services provided by voluntary organisations.

However, some children have important disadvantages that are often only addressed when they become serious. Sometimes their parents know there is a problem but struggle to know how to get help.

The most important way of ensuring that these children can be identified earlier and helped before things reach crisis point is for everyone whose job involves working with children and families to keep an eye out for their well-being, and be prepared to help if something is going wrong.

“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” (Working Together to Safeguard Children).

From the perspective of a child, it is clearly best to receive help before they have any, or have only minor, adverse experiences.

Effective early help relies upon local agencies working together to:

  • Identify children and families who would benefit from early help;
  • Undertake an assessment of the need for early help; and
  • Provide targeted early help services to address the assessed needs of a child or family.

2. Assessing Children and Families with Additional Needs

Each area has its own local process for assessing and supporting children and families with additional needs Please see below:

REMEMBER - The CAF or Early Help Assessment is not for when there is concern that a child may have been harmed or may be at risk of harm. In these circumstances, a referral should be made to Children’s Social Care Services (see Referrals Procedure).