The Early Help 2 delivery model was launched in September 2020. Practitioners have been brought together from previous teams that worked separately with, for example, early years and teenagers.
Early Help is a distributed service, with some staff in the service sitting in the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH), some in the locality-based family hubs and others providing specialist programmes designed to prevent children from being ‘stepped up’ to more critical interventions.
The Early Help team managers have access to locality ward profiles which are updated each term. This helps them to target interventions proportionately and to those in greatest need, as individuals and as communities. In addition, the council’s Early Help services link to a wider network of external providers which include schools, health services and voluntary and community providers.
Early Help 1 (EH1) are the teams providing programmes and supporting school inclusion whilst in Early Help 2 (EH2) six family support teams and youth support services are based in locality hubs across Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.
The direction of travel for us is to prevent children needing escalation to social care and to work in support of the team around the school model for the 100+ schools and colleges in BCP, thereby reducing the sense of disengagement some young people feel which may at times lead them into conflict with their school or college.
We respond to concerns from pre-birth to the end of childhood through to the young person’s 18th birthday. Interventions are limited to 16 weeks to ensure that resources can be available for new families needing support. At any one time there is capacity for approximately 600 children and young people to be supported in the family support teams.
Where dedicated casework is required, an Early Help Assessment will be completed within 15 days. Assessments use Signs of Wellbeing - a worry statement, well-being goal and a support network (the team around the family). An ‘interest list’ is operated, not a waiting list. An offer is always made within a term – otherwise it will often be too late.
Early Help Programmes Teams work across the BCP Family Hubs to deliver Early Help services which are accessible to children/young people and families. The Early Help Programmes Teams offer evidence-based programmes under four stands, these include Parenting, Young Parents and Volunteering, Communication Language and Literacy, Home Learning and Wellbeing and BrighterFutures which is a school facing service.
Where dedicated casework is not the only or not the most appropriate response, an alternative Early Help offer may be suggested. This may be signposting to an appropriate group or programme run by or through the service.