Most families would recognise that they have a support network around their family, whether this is grandparents, friends and the local GP or community groups. Through this network, families receive enough support, advice and sometimes help which enables them to overcome usual day to day difficulties that many people experience. Through these universal or preventative (community based) services, most families thrive.
Some families, however, will experience more complex difficulties in their lives. Depending on the type and complexity of their needs, they may need to get more help from targeted services provided by public sector organisations. These organisations need to step in and work alongside the support that is already in place.
A small minority of families will need help to cope with risks presented to the safety of some or all members of their family. When this happens, specialist services need to step in to work alongside the support that is already in place.
Cambridgeshire works in a Think Family way and this means that when several services are involved in supporting families, the Council will always ensure there is:
- One Lead Professional - nominated to co-ordinate the work with the family.
- One thorough family assessment - which considers the needs of the whole family, how the issues inter-relate and the wider context and relationships which surround presenting issues, but places children's safety as paramount. The principle method for this in Cambridgeshire is the Early Help Assessment, although some services such as Social Care use a different assessment tool.
- One family plan - which prioritises children's safety, is managed by the Lead Professional and reviewed through regular meetings with the family and services involved. The plan will always be co-produced with the family; their preferences for intervention will be considered and outcomes negotiated. Where there is risk support this may not always be possible if children's safety is at risk.
- A team around the family - all professionals who are involved with any member of the family working together to the family plan with agreed goals. The team will ensure they understand each other's roles and speak well of each other.
The Council also wants to make sure it is:
- Limiting the number of transfers families experience through Council services; one co-ordinated intervention is more effective than services taking it in turns and transfers between teams consume time, energy and so incur cost.
- Committing to putting the child's needs at the centre and overcoming professional difference. This way of thinking brings together and identifies professionals working with a family who are then co-ordinated by one Lead Professional. The Lead Professional will ensure all professionals involved are working to the same goals and are able to share their own information relating to family members. It also ensures that families are being given clear and concise advice and work is not being duplicated or misunderstood. By having one Family Plan, all professionals are clear about the outcomes they are aiming to achieve and how their work complements each other.
The Early Help Assessment (EHA):
- Provides a standardised and holistic assessment tool for professionals and volunteers to use with families to identify all of the needs within a family and how their various needs inter-relate.
- Operates as a request for services and as such supports decision making about how a family's needs might be best addressed.
It can be used by anyone who works with children, young people, adults and families across the workforce, whether they are employed or volunteers, and working in the public, private or voluntary sector.
It can be used whenever there are concerns that a child, young person, adult or family has needs which might require targeted support.
The Cambridgeshire Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) Threshold Document, launching in 2017, will provide descriptors of the possible needs being presented by children and young people which may require targeted (or specialist) support.
Before starting an EHA assessment, the Assessor should contact the Early Help Hub on 01480 376 666 (office hours) or [email protected] to check if an EHA already exists. A copy of the EHA, signed by members of the family, should be sent to the Early Help Hub for logging. A copy of the EHA should be offered to the parent / carer and / or young person.
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.
For further information and support, please contact:
Early Help Hub
01480 376 666
Open 9am - 5pm from Monday to Thursday and 9am - 4.30pm on Friday.
Guidance, forms and documents
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last updated January 2017
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Other useful documents
This area provides a number of documents/materials to support professionals in using the Think Family approach. Each of the supporting documents are categorised according to the area they relate to.
Please contact the Early Help Hub on 01480 376 666 or email [email protected] if you either have queries or feedback on the documents.
Guidance on how to chair a Team Around the Family meeting and what should be considered / discussed at the meeting.
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An overview of the sanctions available to partner agencies. It has details of the sanctions, tools, powers and levers that are used by public sector organisations in Cambridgeshire.
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A document that should be signed by all attending the TAF meeting, detailing how the information will be shared in accordance with the Think Family approach.
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Assessments / screening tools
Extra information and guidance on how to best complete the Drug & Alcohol screening tool. T: 01223 699 680 E: [email protected]
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Young Carers Assessment - To be completed alongside an Early Help Assessment (EHA) when there is a young carer in the family. Centre 33 T: 01223 307 488 E: [email protected]
Safe Lives risk indicator checklist (RIC) - To be used to assist in measuring risk of domestic violence victims aged 16+, who have disclosed current abuse to a professional. This tool is effective in very high risk cases, for referrals to Marac and other appropriate domestic violence support services.