Early Help for Families
According to Ofsted, there are an estimated two million children in the UK today who are ‘living in difficult family circumstances’, including children whose family lives are affected by parental drug and alcohol dependency, domestic abuse and poor mental health. Delivering Early Help to families means providing guidance and signposting to services as soon as a problem emerges.
Last week I attended the fourth in a series of workshops organised by the Children’s Commissioning Service at Herefordshire Council, offering an opportunity for professionals and practitioners to discuss the challenges and possible solutions for delivering Herefordshire’s Early Help programme. For me, being part of the Early Help conversation is hugely important – the solutions we create must reflect the challenges faced by our local authority clients, and the needs of citizens.
Working in groups we considered the people and organisations best suited to the delivery of Early Help, and what that help should look like. We agreed that there is an existing network of people who come into regular contact with families, allowing them to ‘keep an eye out’ for changes in the health or behaviour of children and parents. Professionals like teachers and GPs could offer guidance and signposting, targeting where they notice problems emerging.
A recent survey of over 100 GPs in Bath and North East Somerset revealed that most professionals would like to provide more Early Help, but do not feel they have enough information at their disposal to provide effective advice to families. Working with focusgov in response to this feedback, Bath & North East Somerset Council developed the Early Help App – a searchable database of local organisations and support services that can help with issues like domestic violence, housing, education and child protection. The Early Help App enables professionals working in the community to offer guidance to families during the crucial, early stages of an emerging problem.
To find out more about the Early Help App, and how it could help professionals and citizens in your locality, please get in touch with the focusgov team.
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