2.2 Surrey Early Help and Multi-Agency Levels of Need

This chapter was updated in October 2016 as a new Levels of Need document replaced the previous version.

Surrey’s Levels of Need for children and young people and families are underpinned by a shared definition of early help:

“Early help means providing support as soon as a problem emerges, at any point in a child’s life, from the foundation years through to the teenage years. Providing early help is more effective in promoting the welfare of children than reacting later.”
Working Together (2015)

Early Help requires everyone to work together to put the child or young person at the centre of everything they do to meet their needs and improve outcomes.

All partner agencies need to ensure that early help services are effective in identifying and improving outcomes for children and young people, but particularly for hard to reach groups.

A Flexible Approach to Early Help

Early Help is part of a wider Safeguarding and Wellbeing system that ensures that children receive the right help at the right time. Children and their families can move through the levels of need, as their situations demand. This means that help should be available to a family as soon as needs are identified and may escalate to acute intervention, but can also mean that following a period of intensive involvement, may be “stepped-down” to early help services.

The majority of children and young people in Surrey need little support beyond universal services to reach their potential. However, there are some children, young people and their families who require additional help and support provided at an early stage and before problems or difficulties escalate. 

The multi-agency levels of need are set out as follows:

Level 1 – Children requiring Universal Services in the Community and occasional additional support from a specialist  

  1. Children are achieving expected outcomes and have their needs met within universal service provision without the need for additional support.

  2. Agencies provide universal prevention and address the entire population with the aim of reducing later incidences or problems. Universal services will respond early to escalating need by providing an enhanced response and signposting appropriately to specialist services.

Level 2 – Vulnerable children requiring a co-ordinated multi agency Early Help approach

  1.  Children are likely to require additional support for a period of time from a range of agencies

  2. Children who are starting to divert from expected outcomes and require time limited intervention. Agencies provide preventative services that aim to respond quickly when problems arise in order to prevent them getting worse.

  3. The support is co-ordinated by the Lead Professional, who may come from any agency and acts as a single point of contact for the families through a process of change both supporting and challenging until outcomes are met.

Level 3 – Vulnerable children requiring timely intervention, Child in Need of services (Section 17) 

  1. Children who are not achieving the expected outcomes, and require more intensive but time limited support from a range of services following Child and Family assessment led by Children’s Services.

  2. Agencies provide prevention and therapy/help when the problem becomes serious.

Level 4 – Children and families requiring specialist support in order to meet their needs, led by Children’s Services, risk of significant harm (Section 47) 

  1. Children who require intensive help and support from a limited range of specialist services led by Children’s Services.

  2. Agencies provide specialist services that are underpinned by wrap-around support services to help children ‘step down’


For full details all documents can be accessed here:

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