4.2 Surrey Early Help and Multi-Agency Levels of Need
This chapter was updated in March 2019 as a new Levels of Need document - Effective Family Resilience replaced the previous version.
Working Together 2018 states that "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. Early help can also prevent further problems arising; for example, if it is provided as part of a support plan where a child has returned home to their family from care, or in families where there are emerging parental mental health issues or drug and alcohol misuse.
Effective early help relies upon local organisations and agencies working together to:
• identify children and families who would benefit from early help
• undertake an assessment of the need for early help
• provide targeted early help services to address the assessed needs of a child and their family which focuses on activity to improve the outcomes for the child
Local authorities, under section 10 of the Children Act 2004, have a responsibility to promote inter-agency co-operation to improve the welfare of all children."
Effective Family Resilience
Every child in Surrey should have the opportunity to reach their potential and that children are best supported to grow and achieve within their own families.
By working together, we will develop flexible services which are responsive to children’s and families’ needs and provide the right level of help at the right time. This will shift focus away from managing short-term crises, towards effective help and support for children, young people and their families at an earlier stage.
We are committed to the following principles which inform the way we work with children and families:
- Promoting the welfare of children and protecting them from significant harm is at the centre of all we do;
- Working together across the whole partnership, aligning our resources so we can best support families and do what needs to be done when it needs to be done;
- Using motivational interviewing to engage with families, seeking their consent and agreement;
- Working to families’ strengths – especially those of parents and carers and taking the time to understand their needs fully. Parents say they are motivated by having goals that reflect their family priorities and working with practitioners whose actions are driven by the needs of the child;
- Focusing on solving problems before they escalate and offer flexible responsive support when and where it is required;
- Building the resilience of families and communities to support each other;
- Basing all that we do on evidence, both of what is needed and of what works;
- Being clear and consistent and open about the outcomes we want to achieve, to make a positive difference.
Parents and carers are usually the best people to understand their child’s needs. Asking for help should be seen as a sign of parents being responsible and not of failure. Parents say that support works well when they are respected and listened to by those working with them.
In the majority of cases, it should be the decision of the parents when to ask for help or advice but there are occasions when those working with children and families may need to assertively engage parents to help them to resolve problems before they become more serious.
There will be circumstances where children or young people themselves are also able to articulate what it is they need to help them and to give consent themselves.
All practitioners, need to work honestly and openly with families, discussing any needs with them using our strengths-based approach, ensuring that they are involved in decision-making. All families deserve openness, honesty and fairness from from those working with them.
The multi-agency levels of need are set out as follows:
Level 1 - UNIVERSAL: Children and young people who make good overall progress in most areas of development and receive appropriate universal services, such as health care and education. They may also use leisure and play facilities, housing or voluntary sector services.
Level 2 – EARLY HELP: Children and young people whose needs require some extra support. A single universal or targeted service or two services are likely to be involved; these services should work together. A Team Around the Family meeting to share information and agree an Early Help Plan to support the child and family is helpful. No need for specialist services.
Level 3 – TARGETED HELP: Vulnerable Children. Children and young people whose needs are more complex. This refers to the range, depth or significance of the needs. A number of these indicators would need to be present to indicate need at Level 3. More than one service is involved, using a Team Around the Family approach, Early Help Plan and a Lead Practitioner to co-ordinate multi-agency support. Targeted Help can support at this level.
Level 4 - SPECIALIST: Children and young people whose needs are complex and enduring and cross many domains. More than one service is normally involved, with a co-ordinated multi-agency approach and a Lead Professional, commonly in a non-statutory role. At times statutory intervention may be required.
Family Information Service
The majority of families will be able to access universal services and are encouraged to make use of the Family Information Service to identify services in the community that may be able to support them and the needs of their children.
Any practitioner, child, young person or family member can directly access the Family Information Service by following this link. This directory provides a detailed list of a variety of services that are available in the community by typing in a keyword search.
The effective family resilience document (levels of need) can be found here: