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1.3 Early help

Providing ‘early help’ is more effective in promoting the welfare of children than reacting when problems become more serious. This help may be needed at any point in a child’s life, from early to teenage years.

All professionals, particularly those in universal services, should be alert to signs that a child may require early help. This may include a child who:

  • is disabled and has specific additional needs
  • has special educational needs
  • is a young carer
  • is showing signs of engaging in anti-social or criminal behaviour, including gang involvement and association with organised crime groups
  • is frequently missing/goes missing from care or from home
  • is at risk of modern slavery, trafficking or exploitation
  • is at risk of being radicalised or exploited
  • is in a family circumstance presenting challenges for the child, such as drug and alcohol abuse, adult mental health problems and domestic violence
  • is misusing drugs or alcohol themselves
  • has returned home to their family from care
  • is a privately fostered child.

If a professional identifies a need for early help, they have a responsibility to share that information and work together with other agencies to provide children with the support they need. Indeed, effective early help relies upon local agencies working together to:

  • identify children and families who would benefit from early help
  • assess the need for early help, and
  • provide targeted early help services to address the assessed needs of a child and their family in order to improve outcomes for the child.

Further guidance is available in the thresholds/level of need criteria guidance in Section 3 of these procedures. These explain the inter-agency processes for early help assessments and the type of early help services provided.

This page is correct as printed on Monday 18th of January 2021 01:55:40 PM please refer back to this website ( for updates.