The sooner a family receives the right support, the sooner they are able to improve their situation and prevent the need for prolonged support.
Support starts with universal services, such as the school, the health service and the police. Families needing additional support will receive the next level.
A 'whole family' approach ensures that children's needs and welfare are being met and maintained as well as those of the family. This is done by working with the family, local communities and others already supporting them.
Early help also includes parents-to-be and very young children where:
- their needs are not being met by routine or 'universal' services
- they do not meet thresholds for statutory interventions.
There are four elements to early help:
- The Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) aims to provide a single and consistent point of access to advice, guidance and decision-making about the right level of help needed to keep each child safe or achieve change.
- Family Support Hubs that ensure families passed on by the MASH are joined to the right kind of support quickly through a co-ordinated response with partners.
- A partnership of specialist keyworkers for families with multiple or complex needs who require coordinated multi-agency support. This aims to prevent the need for statutory social care intervention.
- Strong local partnerships to support families in their communities and make sure they have the capacity to deliver an early help response.
Our West Sussex Partnership Families Strategic Plan provides more detail.
The newly-formed West Sussex County Council Integrated Prevention and Earliest Help (IPEH) team includes:
- the Early Childhood Service
- Children and Family Centres
- Think Family
- Early Help
- Youth Services
- the Healthy Child Programme (HCP), including health visitors, school nurses and the Family Nurse Partnership (FNP).
We work alongside our West Sussex partners, including the district and borough councils. We also call on the skills and knowledge of services who work closely with families and children, including:
- heads and governors of schools
- Sussex Police
- the Probation Service
- health and maternity services
- voluntary organisations
- other internal family support services, such as children’s social care and those working with specialist needs.