Norfolk Children’s Services Early Help Strategy 2015 – 2017 Early Help in Norfolk



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Norfolk Children’s Services

Early Help Strategy 2015 – 2017



Early Help in Norfolk
This document refreshes the Early Help Strategy 2013 and outlines Norfolk’s Early Help Offer and Strategy for developing and embedding early help across Norfolk 2015 - 2017.

What is Early Help?

Early help is about engaging with children, young people, their families and communities at the first point of need and maximising opportunities for them to achieve their potential without the need for long term support or intervention.



Early help addresses issues before or as soon as they become apparent. This might be through an observation by a Housing Officer approached about repairs noticing that a family is struggling, through an observation by an early years worker at a children’s centre ‘stay and play’ session, through a young person behaving inappropriately in the streets and being stopped by the police or by a parent presenting at the GP with stress related symptoms. There will be no wrong front door
We recognise that the provision of early help services should form part of a continuum of help and support to respond to the different levels of need of individual children and families.
Children and family needs are constantly changing and at different times in their lives they will have differing levels of involvement from a range of services, from universal, targeted and specialist support services.
Universal services are available to all children, young people and families, working with families to promote positive outcomes for everyone, by providing access to education, health services and other positive activities.
Targeted services focus on children, young people and families who may need support either through a single service or through an integrated multi-agency response. They work with families where there are signs that without support a child may not achieve good outcomes and fulfil their potential.
However targeted services are also critical in preventing escalation into specialist services, and will also assist with continuing lower level support once a higher level intervention has been completed.
This is articulated within the Norfolk Thresholds Guide, published by the Norfolk Safeguarding Children Board.



NSCB “The Norfolk Thresholds Guide”
All staff and professionals therefore need to “think family – think early help” and respond appropriately. In most cases this will involve helping a family resolve the issues themselves by providing them with information about universal services they can access. For families where there is increased vulnerability it will mean sharing information so that early support can be provided by the appropriate services.
Some families will require more targeted support such as parenting programmes or family support. In a small number of cases it will involve calling upon specialist services to help meet an identified need.
In delivering early help services as part of this continuum of need it is important that services at a universal, targeted and specialist level are seamless for families. Early help is well embedded as part of universal and targeted service delivery, and clear ‘step up/step down’ arrangements are in place to manage the integrated approach to targeted and specialist services.

Why is Early Help important?
Early help is important for children, young people and families as it seeks to support them to meet their needs, develop their resilience and reduce the potential for statutory or specialist interventions which can be intensive, intrusive and expensive.
‘For children who need additional help, every day matters. Academic research is consistent in underlining the damage to children from delaying intervention. The actions taken by professionals to meet the needs of these children as early as possible can be critical to their future’

Working Together to Safeguard Children - A guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children (March 2013).
Five key documents were published during 2010 and 2011 which reinforce the case for early help:


  • the Graham Allen report on intervening early in a child’s life,

  • the Field report on preventing generational poverty,

  • the Munro review of children’s social care services,

  • the Tickell review of early years, and

  • the Marmot review of health.

All make a compelling case for early help – both early in a child’s life or at the early signs of a possible problem.


The key messages emerging from these documents are that:



  • Early help results in positive benefits to the social, personal, emotional and economic lives of children and young people and to their parents and carers

  • Early help has economic benefits; universal and targeted services can be delivered at a lower cost than higher-level specialist services

  • Funding and resources should be realigned to support early help using the “invest to save” model. Community Based Budgets have tested out invest to save approaches

  • Providers and commissioners should be required to improve how they measure outcomes and value for money.

In addition the DfE published the following guidance:




  • Providing early help is more effective in promoting the welfare of children than reacting later. 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.

  • Effective early help relies on agencies working together to:

  • identify children & 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 & their family which focuses on activity to significantly improve the outcomes for the child.

  • Use of an inter-agency assessment to inform co-ordinated support.

Working Together to Safeguard Children - A guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children (March 2013).

The impact of not having a good early help offer is greater numbers of children, young people and families not reaching their potential and having additional or considerable needs requiring higher level multi-agency responses.


Higher level and statutory intervention is both intrusive and costly, both for families and for agencies. Good early help prevents the need for such services, and can support families to stay together safely and prevent the need for children to become looked after.
The regulatory framework, also expects local authorities to have well embedded early help arrangements to support families at the first sign of need emerging.

What is the Early Help Offer?
Norfolk’s early help offer identifies the need for help for children, young people and families as soon as problems start to emerge, or when there is a strong likelihood that problems will emerge in the future.
The early help offer will provide families the opportunities within the area that they live localities through which they and professionals can access additional support. We have developed six ‘localities’ for early help delivery, which are co-terminus with the district boundaries, and other partners have begun to align their service delivery models within the same locality areas.
The critical features of our effective early help offer are:


  • a multi-disciplinary approach that brings a range of professional skills and expertise to bear through a family based approach

  • a relationship with a trusted Lead Professional who can engage the child and their family, and coordinate the support needed from other agencies

  • practice that empowers families and helps them to develop the capacity to resolve their own problems through a strengths based approach and the adoption of Signs of Safety

  • a holistic approach that addresses children’s needs in the wider family context

  • a seamless service for children and families

Our early help offer recognises the role that all family members (mothers and fathers, step parents, grandparents, siblings and other extended family members and carers) can play in influencing what children experience and achieve.


Central to our early help offer is the early identification of children and families who would benefit from early help and a co-ordinated early assessment and response to improve outcomes for children and families as a whole.
The Norfolk Family Support Process provides a framework from which to build a holistic picture of a family’s circumstances, including areas of strength and resilience and areas requiring support.
The Family Support Form is designed to be completed alongside family members and shared with other relevant workers who may form a team around the family in order to develop a family plan and provide appropriate support. The Family Support Form assessment evidences the perspectives of family members and always takes account of the feelings and wishes of children and young people.
Early help is not just about doing the same things as we have done before, it is about building on the successes of the past, but also thinking and working differently to ensure good outcomes for children, young people and families. Innovation and creativity is a key feature of our early help offer.
What makes up the Early Help Offer?
Whilst this strategy details Children’s Services’ activity and development of early help, it is clear that early help is not owned by Norfolk County Council. Children’s Services and other council services contribute to early help, and provide some system leadership; but cannot and is not the sole provider of early help services to children young people and families.
Norfolk has a wide range of agencies and organisations that deliver universal and targeted services that in combination make up our early help offer. Community led provision, like that of faith based groups or parish council activity enable support for children and families to stay on the universal pathway, preventing need for occurring.
Voluntary sector agencies work across a plethora of issue and theme based outcomes, providing support for children young people and families when they need assistance and support.
The wider public sector, (county council, police, health, district and borough councils, etc.), provide services to communities, both universal and targeted, which support children and families to be resilient or meet emerging and actual needs.
For Children’s Services these are our early help teams within localities, (made up of family practitioners, community development coordinators, domestic abuse coordinators, commissioners and process teams); our school inclusion support services; and our relationship with children’s social care teams.
All of this when well co-ordinated, with a common understanding of purpose and expected outcomes for children, young people and families makes up early help.
In Norfolk, this co-ordination is brought about by a common understanding and utilisation of the Family Support Process; the Children and Young People’s Strategic Partnership (through the Early Help Improvement Board and the Integrated Working subgroup); locality working arrangements; and good partnerships between agencies and directly with families.


What are our Early Help Priority Outcomes?
The four priority outcomes for early help in Norfolk are:


  • Children and Young People are Healthy and Resilient;

  • Children and Young People are Safe and Well Cared For;

  • Children and Young People Develop, Learn and Achieve;

  • Children and Young People are ready for Adult Life.


Children and Young People are Healthy and Resilient
Most parents know the basics of keeping children healthy, like offering them healthy foods, making sure they get enough sleep and exercise and insuring their safety; but for some families supporting healthy choices is difficult. Early help can assist and support in enabling parents and families to engage with health in a way that is right for them and that meet their needs.
Similarly, it is not possible to fully protect children from the ups and downs of life. Developing resilience in children, young people and families, however, is possible and can provide them with the tools they need to respond to the challenges of childhood, adolescence and young adulthood and to navigate successfully in adulthood.
Children and Young People are Safe and Well Cared For
The best place for a children and young people is with his or her family, and early help provides support to enable families to stay together wherever and whenever it is safe to do so.
Working with families and other agencies, including children’s social care, and through the Signs of Safety approach we will work with families to identify needs and interventions that can support them to develop the skills, networks and attributes needed to maintain the family unit.
Children and Young People Develop, Learn and Achieve
All young people can learn and achieve and early help can contribute to supporting those children, young people and families for whom this is difficult. Working across agencies early help can provide the elements necessary for ensuring that children and young people are not at risk of missing out on educational and other learning and developmental opportunities
Children and Young People are ready for Adult Life
Childhood and adolescence shapes who we become and who we are as adults, therefore we have to ‘get it right’ early. We want all young people to be able to be active citizens in their community, making a positive contribution to community life and having the benefits of strong communities.
Enabling children, young people and families to equip themselves with the right ingredients to manage the transitions from adolescence into adulthood is a key component of the early help offer.

How will we know if the Early Help Offer is making a difference?
There are five key benefits of what a good early help offer looks like:


  • Narrowing the gap

  • Improved practice outputs and outcomes

  • Improved inter agency working

  • Increased user involvement

  • Reduced cost

It is important not only that we embed an early help offer across Norfolk, but that we continually monitor the effectiveness of that early help in supporting children, young people and families.


The development of an early help outcomes framework, identifying our outcomes measures and key performance indicators will enable us to drive improvement and celebrate success in delivering the outcome priorities for Norfolk’s early help offer.
Below is the initial outcomes framework, and identification of some outcomes measures.



Norfolk

Early Help Offer

Outcomes Measures





Children and Young People are Healthy and Resilient

Children and Young People are Safe and Well Cared For

Children and Young People Develop, Learn and Achieve

Children and Young People are ready for Adult Life


Outcomes Measures

Minimise the number of children looked after












Minimise the number of children living in poverty









Minimise the number of Children and young people exposed to Domestic Abuse











Minimise un-planned or unauthorised absence from school












Minimise exclusions from schools












Minimise the number of young people involved in crime or at risk of crime











Minimise the number of Children living in Troubled Families










Maximise the number of young people in Education, Employment and Training (EET)










Maximise health outcomes for all children, young people and their families











Maximise the number of children achieving a good level of development at age 5












Minimise the number of children subject to child protection












Minimise the number of children, young people and families who are homeless












Minimise the number of children in need












Maximise the emotional wellbeing of children, young people











Minimise the number of pregnancies in teenage years












Minimise the attainment gap between children with SEN and others











Maximise the health of children with SEN












Minimise the prevalence of substance misuse












Minimise the numbers of young people subject to CSE












Access to universal services are facilitated and cost effective









Stakeholders are satisfied with service provision









Partners are engaged in the development and delivery of the Early Help Offer










Our Early Help Strategy
In order to ensure that early help is well embedded in our work and is having a real impact for children, young people and families there are some key actions and activities that we will undertake. This forms the basis of the early help strategy.
The key objectives described below will link to the early help outcomes framework to enable clear oversight and monitoring of the successful implementation of the early help strategy.

Our objectives:



Objective 1: Develop and embed locality working arrangements


Actions/Activity

Develop early help and locality working workshops in each District/City Council area.

Map partnership office and delivery locations with potential for co-location/co-delivery in each District/City Council area.

Develop joint working protocols with key partners related to each locality.

Develop positive engagement of schools and learning providers in the delivery and support of early help.

Outputs

Increased sharing of data and information between partners (including soft information in support of families needs).

Increased co-delivery of services.

Better referral of families to appropriate agencies/professional within locality for support.

Better support for schools and learning providers in delivering early help.

Outcomes

Reduction in re-referrals. Families supported to meet their needs and develop resilience.

Reduced duplication for families. Single point of contact/lead professional. Families only have to tell “their story” once.

Better outcomes in relation to the four key priorities.

Lead Officer(s)

Sal Thirlway (Assistant Director) / Gordon Boyd (Assistant Director)

Governance

Children’s Services Senior Leadership Team

Early Help Improvement Board (CYPSP)

Integrated Working Board (CYPSP)





Objective 2: Develop clear ‘step up/step down’ arrangements


Actions/Activity

Review (and refresh as appropriate) current step up/step down processes and procedures, in line with the Norfolk Safeguarding Children Board (NSCB) refresh of the Norfolk Thresholds Guide.

Disseminate new processes and procedures across the children’s workforce.

Develop clear conflict management and escalation routes.

Outputs

Families needs are met by the most appropriate service (Universal/Targeted/Specialist)

Greater understanding and management of risk within the ‘system’.

Staff are more confident to manage support and risk.

Outcomes

Reduction in inappropriate or re-referrals to Children’s Social Care (CiN, CP, LAC).

Families supported to meet their needs and develop resilience.

Lead Officer(s)

Sal Thirlway (Assistant Director) / Cathy Mouser (Assistant Director)

Governance

Children’s Services Senior Leadership Team

Norfolk Local Safeguarding Children Board





Objective 3: Implement Signs of Safety


Actions/Activity

Train all Norfolk County Council Children’s Services staff in ‘Signs of Safety’

Brief all partner agencies on ‘Signs of Safety’

Embed Signs of Safety in aspects of service; including assessment, delivery, and planning and develop its use in strategy discussions, and Child Protection meetings.

Outputs

Practitioners will be empowered and have greater confidence through creating a more constructive culture in supporting vulnerable children, young people and families.

There will be more collaborative and constructive working relationships between professionals and families

Partner agencies will be engaged in the utilisation of Signs of Safety and will also have trained staff.

Outcomes

Reduction in the separation of families due to the strength based approach to assessment and planning.

Greater involvement, commitment and satisfaction of families leading to better outcomes for children and young people.

Lead Officer

Phil Holmes (Signs of Safety Project Manager)

Governance

Children’s Services Senior Leadership Team

Children and Young People’s Strategic Partnership (CYPSP)






Objective 4: Further develop the Early Help Outcomes Framework


Actions/Activity

Develop data and information share agreements across the partnership in relation to early help outcomes and key performance indicators.

Link performance monitoring to resource allocation and service improvement, through team and service planning; appraisal and supervision and workforce development.

Outputs

Better understanding of performance and needs to drive effective planning and delivery leading to improved performance.

Increased agreement to share data and information across partners.

Clearer and better assessments leading to clearer and better decisions.

Outcomes

Children and young people will be healthy and resilient

Children and young people will be safe and well cared for

Children and young people will develop, learn and achieve

Children and young people will be ready for adult life

Lead Officer

Sal Thirlway (Assistant Director) / Don Evans (Assistant Director)

Governance

Children’s Services Senior Leadership Team

Early Help Improvement Board (CYPSP)

Norfolk County Council Children’s Services Committee






Objective 5: Further develop Community Capacity and the quality of Universal Provision


Actions/Activity

In partnership with the community and voluntary sector, develop a local quality mark for universal service providers.

Increase young people’s engagement in community activity and volunteering.

Outputs

Greater volume of voluntary sector organisations delivery of early help activity.

Increase in voluntary and community sector organisations and community volunteering

Development of agreed quality standards across the voluntary and community sector.

Outcomes

Greater involvement and commitment of communities to early help, leading to better outcomes for children and young people.

A Volunteer Mark developed and acting as a ‘kite mark’ for high quality volunteers and voluntary organisations.

Lead Officer

Sal Thirlway (Assistant Director)

Governance

Early Help Improvement Board (CYPSP)

Norfolk Voluntary Sector Forum




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