Children and young people are often the most vulnerable members of our communities with local authorities and their partners providing social care support to those experiencing the highest levels of problems.
Nevertheless, it is important that all partners and communities provide effective and co-ordinated help and support to children and their families at the earliest opportunity, to prevent them from having to experience such difficulties and related distress in the first place. The Early Help and Troubled Families programmes (see below) are considered to be dynamic connections to the multiagency safeguarding hub (MASH).
MASH ensures identification, risk assessment and analysis
This system ensures identification, risk assessment and analysis and close coordination between family and professionals at the earliest opportunity; it is set up when cases are received from professionals (or parents) in the hub environment. For those families experiencing multiple or complex issues it is vital they have access to a co-ordinated package of Early Offer of Help services delivered over a continuum and from universal preventative services to more targeted and or specialist services.
This will ensure the appropriate help and support to families at the earliest stage. A range of partners need to work together to plan and deliver services – it is essential that these strong partnerships understand the role each agency plays and the impact each service has on supporting families. Any disconnect will jeopardise any interventions.
So what is the Early Help (EH) and Troubled Families (TF) function to the MASH?
This model brings together a variety of agencies into an integrated co-located multi agency team; where information is shared appropriately and securely on children, families and adults in order to make timely and appropriate decisions.
By working closely together across professional boundaries the hub helps to ensure early identification of concerns and provisions of help to families; which is vital in promoting children and young people’s wellbeing.
The four agreed multi agency ‘Levels of Need’ are:
- Level 1 – UNIVERSAL – Children, young people and families are generally progressing well and achieving expected outcomes. Their core needs are being met effectively by universal services without any additional support
- Level 2 – EARLY HELP/INTERVENTION – Children, young people and families are experiencing emerging problems which result in them not achieving expected outcomes. They are likely to require early help/intervention for a time limited period, to seek to help them move back to Level 1
- Level 3 – TARGETED – Children, young people and families who are experiencing significant additional needs, which may be numerous or more serious/complex in nature. This is having a significant impact on their achievement of expected outcomes and is likely to require more targeted support, potentially from a number of agencies. This may require the identification of a lead professional to co-ordinate the support provided to the family.
- Level 4 – SPECIALIST – Children, young people and families who are experiencing very serious or complex needs that are having a major impact on their achievement of expected outcomes. Their needs will be such that they require intensive support from one or more specialist services.
By Marisa De Jager