Think Family approach
When several services are involved in supporting families, the Think Family approach puts the child's needs at the centre and overcomes professional difference. This way of thinking brings together all the professionals working with a family who are then coordinated by one Lead Professional.
- The Lead Professional will ensure everyone is working to the same goals and shares information relating to family members. It also ensures that families are being given clear advice and work is not being duplicated or confused.
- There will be one Family Plan agreed with the family so that all professionals are clear about the outcomes they are aiming to achieve and how their work complements each other.
The Team Around the Family
This is a generic term used to describe the group of professionals, volunteers and members of the wider family who are involved. It must include family members working alongside professionals. The Team Around the Family could just be the Lead Professional and the family. However it is likely that it will include a group of others as well.
The Team Around the Family works through regular meeting set up and chaired by the Lead Professional to coordinate the work agreed in the Family Plan. The Family Plan will be reviewed, its impact monitored, changes made as required, to achieve the outcomes for the family.
All practitioners working with children, young people and adults should have an awareness of the Think Family approach and the processes that support this. All practitioners who have not yet attended training are encouraged to do so.
A lead professional co-ordinates the work with the family and make it easier for them to know who to communicate with. The Lead Professional role is for the whole family and aims to ensure the provision of holistic support to meet the individual needs of all children, young people and adults within the family. In some setting and services, a professional linked to a child or adult is known as a keyworker or caseworker. This means that they are the designated professional from that service for the named individual and does not mean that they are necessarily the Lead Professional for the whole family.
The lead professional can be anybody who works with children, young people, adults or families. They will require appropriate training and supervision to undertake the role. Depending on the needs of the family, who undertakes the role may be decided by the Team Around the Family or by other services involved with the family. If a social worker is involved then they will always be the Lead professional.
Records of who is taking the lead professional role for families and the work being done are held on the Council’s case recording system (LiquidLogic). Non-Council professionals may have access to this system. If you are a professional from a partner agency acting as the Lead Professional for a family, please request authorisation to have partner level access to Liquidlogic.
- It should be decided with the views of the family in mind
- Often it will be the person who is most involved with the family already
- The Lead Professional is not necessarily the person who initiated the Early Help Assessment
- If the family began working with Children’s Social Care under a section 47, Child Protection Plan, then Children’s Social Care will always take the Lead Professional role
A single co-ordinated family plan
The Family Plan has been designed to enable the Team Around the Family to identify if the work they are doing has been successful. Clarity around what we want to achieve helps the 'team around the family' work towards a common aim. It also helps us to understand what is realistic for the family and know when the work is completed.
In Cambridgeshire there is a shared 'outcomes framework' which provides targets for the five main outcomes. Professionals can use this when completing their family plans. The Early Help Hub will use this framework to draft an initial Family Support Plan where a non Cambridgeshire County Council Lead professional has been identified.
The plan will be recorded in our case recording system for Children's Services. Non-Council professionals have access to this system, LiquidLogic.
Plans can be updated directly by an authorised and trained lead professional. If the lead professional is not able to access the Council system they will need to submit updates to the Early Help Hub by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
It is expected that the Team Around the Family should meet at regular intervals. The frequency should meet the needs of the family, but no less than once every three months. During the meeting the plan should be reviewed and updated.
After each review, the updated family plan should be updated on LiquidLogic. The Lead professionals must take responsibility to ensure they either upload it or send it to the Early Help Hub.
When all of the work has come to an end, or the 'team around the family' agree that a Family Plan is no longer needed.
- The family should receive confirmation in writing
- The final plan should be stored on LiquidLogic, and it will be reviewed by the Early Help Hub or a District Team to confirm that the family’s needs have been met. Feedback will be provided to the Lead professional.
Think Family Personalisation Fund
The Think Family personalisation fund is in place to support the Think Family approach and meet the needs of families where outcomes cannot be met in any other way. Funding may be available to support meeting outcomes within Family Support Plans whether or not Cambridgeshire County Council staff are part of the Team Around the Family.