What help may be available to a family struggling to meet their child’s basic needs?
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A family who is struggling to meet their child’s basic needs can request help and support. This could be early help.
Early help aims for agencies to work together to provide support as soon as problems emerge. This is because tackling a problem early can stop things getting worse. Education (schools, nurseries), housing, and health services are all examples of agencies. Early Help can be given to a family with a child up to age 18. So the child may be a baby, toddler, at primary school or a teenager.
Social workers are not involved in early help assessments or providing early help services. But sometimes, they ask early help services to provide assistance to children and families they are working with.
See our Early help page for more information about early help services.
Child in need
There is a general legal duty on children’s services departments to work to keep children safe, well cared for and, at home unless this would place them at risk. To help achieve this, children’s services must provide a range and level of services in their local area to help children ‘in need’ and their families (see see section 17(1) Children Act 1989).
A child in need is a child who needs extra support or services to help them achieve or maintain ‘a reasonable standard of health or development’ (see section 17(10) Children Act 1989).
If children’s services think a child or family may need extra support, they should carry out a child in need assessment. This aims to work out if a child is in need or not. And to find out what extra help and services the child and their family need. Local children’s services departments have their own measures for deciding which children are ‘in need’ enough to get services.
See our Child in need page for important information about how to request a child in need assessment and what is involved.