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Early help assessment

‘Early help’ means giving support to a child and family as soon as a problem emerges. It does not mean early on in a child’s life. Early help can be given to a family with a child at any age.

The idea is that tackling a problem early on is the best way to help the child. This intervention aims to stop problems getting worse.

The first step is an early help assessment. This is usually suggested by someone who works closely with the child, such as a GP, teacher or health visitor. The common assessment framework is an example of an early help assessment.

All professionals who work with children should be trained to look out for signs a child or family may need help and be able to carry out an assessment. The assessment will identify what help the child and family need. The child and family should be asked what they think would help them. A lead practitioner will be appointed to coordinate support from different agencies.

An early help assessment is voluntary. The parents and child do not have to agree to it. However, if the parents do not agree, the professional who suggested it may become more worried and feel they need to make a formal referral to children’s services.

The sorts of early help services that might be available include speech and language therapy, counselling and young carers’ support groups, for example, as well as parenting programmes and help for parents with needs relating to drug or alcohol misuse.

For more information see our advice pages on:

Early help

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