Sometimes your child or young person may need extra support, and the services who work with you and your child will want to find solutions for you all as soon as possible. We believe a little bit of help at the right time makes a big difference. We want to help you find solutions to small problems before they turn into big ones, and we do this with an Early Help Assessment.
The Early Help Assessment finds out about the strengths and difficulties your child and family may have, and explores the best way to help. It’s a bit like doing a puzzle. First, we need to have all the pieces before we can see the whole picture. With your consent, an Early Help Assessment will gather your story and be shared with professionals who can help. By doing this you should only need to tell your story once. If we do not feel we can cover all of your needs we will discuss this with you, and with your permission share the information with an agreed team of professionals who we believe will be able to support you.
The Early Help Assessment is your document and will help professionals understand what you feel is working well in your family and what you might need help with. It can also be used to access support for you and your child from many different services, so you do not have to fill in other referral forms.
Based on the information you and your child provide, the worker can begin to complete an action plan with you and all those who can help your child. This may take place straight away or the worker may need to make some enquiries and contact you again. If there are needs which could be met by a number of different services then a ’Team around the Child’ meeting will be held.
Older children may feel better able to discuss their situation on their own with the worker. A young person’s wish to keep information confidential from parents may be respected by the worker where this is in the young person’s best interests.
You will be given a copy of the Early Help Assessment and will be told who will see it, where it is stored and how it will be used. Normally only people who need to know about your child will receive the information.
The Somerset Early Help Assessment has been agreed by all professionals who work with children and young people as a good way of helping families explain what help they feel they need. This means that doctors, health visitors, schools, Children’s Centres, and housing associations – to name a few – will be able to work with you in this way.
We hope that you will want to take part in the Early Help Assessment to get the support you need for your child. But, if you don’t want to get involved, you can ask for the process to stop. Though this could mean that the support you are asking for is more difficult to access.