Early Help Assessment - information for professionals

The Early Help Assessment provides a method for assessing needs for children and young people to support earlier intervention and to improve joint working and communication between practitioners.

The aim in Herefordshire is to identify, at the earliest opportunity, a family or young person's needs which are not being met and provide a timely and coordinated package of support. Early Help Assessment can be used by all professionals working with children, young people and families and is a consent-based process so that it is underpinned by a partnership approach between families and practitioners, with emphasis on family-based decision-making.

The Early Help Assessment assesses the strengths and needs of the child and their family, and families play a big part when developing an action plan for meeting any identified additional needs. Actions and support are then delivered via Team Around the Family (TAF) meetings or regular locality Family Network meetings.

The form has been designed to be easier to complete. It is an electronic form with drop down boxes to enable the user to select options. There are fewer sections, providing an opportunity to present the information in a more narrative format. 'Neglect' and 'children at risk of sexual exploitation' have been added to the number of areas to be identified within the assessment.

The form consists of two parts:

Part 1 - Family Details, consent and an assessment of emerging needs (making it quicker and easier for families with emerging needs to be able to access support, whilst fulfilling our obligations under the Families First initiative).

Part 2 - A more in-depth assessment for those families that have more complex needs requiring a more multi-agency approach.

The Early Help Assessment form

Download the Early Help Assessment rfs form and consent.

Completing the Early Help Assessment form

There is guidance to support professionals with the Early Help Assessment process and an information sheet for families.

Main points to consider:

  • All forms must be completed electronically, however, the consent part will need to be ticked and signed by hand. Unsigned Early Help Assessment forms will not be accepted. 
  • All forms integrate Families First identification information.
  • On part two of the action plan, outcomes should reflect, where possible, those that are recommended in the Families First outcome Framework. The action plan should contain an indicator number and outcome number, for example:

Image of section from CAF form








 Any additional outcomes that are specific to that young person or family but not part of the Families Outcomes Framework may be recorded as usual. There is a Families First support tool to use alongside the Early Help Assessment. There is practical guidance on completing the Early Help Assessment and further support can be given by the Early Help team. Completed Early Help Assessments can be sent via Anycomms+ to 'early help' or emailed to earlyhelp@herefordshire.gcsx.gov.uk.

Early Help Assessment support plan

The Early Help Assessment support plan now replaces the delivery and review plan. This should be used to monitor progress against the outcomes at regular Team around the Family (TAF) or Family Network meetings.

Early Help Assessment closure form

The Early Help Assessment closure form ensures that outcomes for children and families are monitored more effectively when an Early Help Assessment closes. This form allows the key person and the family to detail why the Early Help Assessment came to an end, what needs (if any) remain unmet and what impact EARLY HELP had overall. These outcomes are measured against the Families First criteria.

Families First criteria and outcomes for Early Help Assessment

There is a guidance document to support practitioners to complete the outcomes for families using the Families First criteria.

Family Network meetings

Family Network meetings are a key part of the process of identifying and meeting any additional needs of children, young people, families and carers identified through the Early Help Assessment process.

They play a crucial role in the integration of services to provide early intervention and prevent needs escalating. The family network meeting will have ownership and commitment from key professionals working in each locality. It is expected that representatives from the core agencies and organisations whose focus is on the outcomes and achievements of children and young people will attend this meeting on a regular basis.

There are currently eight Family Network meetings being held every six weeks which cover their respective areas:

  • Bromyard
  • Kington and Weobley
  • Leominster
  • Hereford City North
  • Hereford City South
  • Kingstone and Golden Valley
  • Ledbury
  • Ross-on-Wye

Family Network meeting timetable 2018

Please be aware that as some meetings may be subject to change, it is advisable to double-check times and venues before attending.

Step-down from social care to Early Help Assessment

When a social worker decides that intervention from social care is no longer required and that the needs of a family can be supported through the Early Help process, the procedure is clearly explained in the guidance 2017.

An Early Help Assessment consent and step-down plan should be used and consent MUST be obtained before a case can step-down to Early Help.

Herefordshire directory of early help services

This is a list of local and nationwide services available to download in the directory of early help services.

Early Help Assessment training

Regular training on the Early Help Assessment in Herefordshire is available through Hoople CPD-on-line.

For questions and support regarding the Early Help Assessment please contact the:

Early Help Co-ordinators on 01432 260261.