“Early Help is intervening early and as soon as possible to tackle problems emerging for children, young people and their families or with a population most at risk of developing problems. Effective intervention may occur at any point in a child or young person’s life”.
The Early Help Strategy is owned by Manchester Children’s Board. It is a key element of their overall vision to improve outcomes for children, young people and their families. However, it is also a joint approach by the voluntary sector, public sector organisations and communities and Macc was involved in the development of the Early Help Strategy 2015-18 alongside Manchester City Council, the NHS and Greater Manchester Police. An annual review is undertaken by the Children’s Board, and quarterly performance monitoring will ensure progress and improvements are being made. The full Manchester City Council's Early Help Strategy 2015-18 is available on Manchester City Council's website.
The Early Help Multi-Agency Levels of Need and Response Framework has been developed to assist those who work with children, young people and their families in Manchester. It aims to assist practitioners to identify the level of need of a child or young person (in the context of their family, environment and experiences) and provides simple guidelines on how to respond with the most appropriate and proportionate intervention at the right time. This guidance was co-produced with partners from the statutory and voluntary sectors, and children, young people and families in Manchester. The guidance provides a number of potential indicators that may highlight additional needs across a broad spectrum, and can be used to enhance collective understanding of risk.
There is a Early Help Practitioner Zone available at https://manchester.fsd.org.uk/kb5/manchester/directory/directory.page?directorychannel=1-10. There are also three Early Help Hubs - North, Central and South. Their contact details are available on the Help & Support Manchester website.
Early Help Champions meetings
In order to promote the Early Help Assessment work and the work of the Early Help Hubs, a city-wide Early Help Champions meeting was set up in order for workers already using the Early Help Assessment to meet together on a monthly basis. This meeting was originally used to discuss how the assessment form was working in practice and discuss any problems in order to improve the system. The meetings also provided the opportunity to meet up with staff from all three Early Help Hubs as well as other people in various organisations who use the Early Help process.
Recently these meetings have been scaled back to quarterly, due to each Early Help Hub having a monthly Early Help Champions meeting which will feed into the city-wide meeting. This was done to widen the participation from more groups/organisations in the Early Help Champions meetings across the whole of Manchester. The meetings also promote ‘Strengths based conversations’ which are essential when working with families and completing the Early Help Assessment. An Early Help Audit Tool has been developed to enable organisations to improve the knowledge and quality around Early Help Assessments being undertaken.
For further information on Early Help, please contact Pauline Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is now a consultation line available if workers are unsure whether to go along the route of Early Help or Safeguarding when making a referral after a concern has been raised. By contacting the consultation line, you talk directly with a social worker based at MASH who will advise which type of referral to make. Their telephone number is 0161 219 2895.