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Gateshead Early Help Assessment (EHA) and Team Around the Family (TAF)

- Introduction
- About Early Help
- Early Help Assessments
- Forms

In Gateshead, we believe that the delivery of early help is everyone's business.

The Gateshead Early Help System is a collaborative approach and not just one service. It relies upon local statutory and voluntary agencies working together to effectively support our children and families. This includes identifying what support might be needed, and then working together to provide that support - starting with a conversation with families about their needs and concerns.

The Gateshead Early Help Assessment (EHA) is a tool used across our early help system to support those conversations.

The EHA may identify that only a single agency response is required, but where multiple needs have been identified, the EHA should inform a multi-agency support plan which is owned and reviewed by the Team Around the Family (TAF) process with the family at its heart and co-ordinated by a Lead Practitioner.

The Lead Practitioner (LP) role is often held by a professional already working with the family, or where the family agrees that the LP is best placed to provide and co-ordinate support.   

About Early Help

What we mean by 'Early Help'

Early help is a way of thinking and working to support families with dependent children in a wide range of settings. Early help aims to prevent problems from escalating by providing families with the advice and practical support required for a happy, healthy and stable family life. Key to this approach is developing the capabilities of families to manage their own problems, building on their strengths, and moving away from dependency on services.   

Early help is a system, not a service.

Why Early Help and early intervention is important

Identifying and addressing a child or family's needs early on can increase protective factors that positively influence a child's wellbeing and decrease risk factors which may be impacting a child's life negatively.

Research shows that early help and intervention can:

  • protect children from harm
  • reduce the need for statutory services
  • improve children's home and family life
  • support children to develop strengths, skills and resilience to prepare them for adult life

Early Help Assessments

The Early Help Assessment

The Early Help Assessment (EHA) provides a common approach/tool to assessing the needs of families and can be used in a variety of settings across the Gateshead early help system.

While the EHA process can identify and help to explore risks in family life, it is not a social work assessment.

Information gathered in an EHA may meet the threshold for social care assessment - the escalation process following identification of safeguarding issues would be followed in these scenarios.

The EHA replaces the Common Assessment Framework or 'CAF' as assessment approach at (Tier 2) early intervention level.

Who could benefit from an Early Help Assessment

Early Help Assessments (EHA) are most beneficial for children or families that have low to moderate level needs that can be met through shorter-term intervention and co-ordination of services. This is because an EHA allows professionals to effectively identify any emerging needs and provide support in a timely and co-ordinated way.

Examples of needs that the EHA may identify (not exhaustive) are:

  • parents/carers who are having relationship difficulties which are affecting the child
  • a child at risk of radicalisation or exploitation
  • a child who has special educational needs
  • a young person misusing drugs and/or alcohol
  • parents/carers misusing drugs and/or alcohol which is affecting the child
  • a child who has mental health issues
  • parents who have a mental health problem who may need additional help
  • a young person who is at risk of offending
  • a child who has poor attendance or is about to be excluded from school
  • experience of unstable or poor housing or issues with poor/unsafe home conditions
  • bullying or bullying others
  • challenges faced by young carers
  • special educational needs and disabilities
  • challenges faced by young parents

Completing the Early Help Assessment

There is no fixed timescale for completion of the EHA and the timescale is often dependent on the complexity of presenting issues, family size and history, and the number of other professionals involved.

Practitioners should aim to complete the EHA by 25-30 working days to ensure that the process informs timely support for the family.

In some scenarios, practitioners are able to provide advice and support alongside completion of the EHA where immediate or short-term actions have been identified.

How to involve children/young people in the Early Help Assessment process

The voices of children and young people should be included in the EHA. Older children should be aware that their family has an EHA, the identity of their Lead Practitioner (LP) and, wherever practicable, participate or contribute to the Team Around the Family (TAF) process - for example, sharing their views prior to the TAF meeting.

Smaller children should be involved through observation and play. 

What happens after the Early Help Assessment has been completed

Your EHA may show that the assessed needs require only a single agency response.

If the family require wider partnership support, a Team Around the Family (TAF) is developed in conjunction with the family.

The TAF might include services already working with the family and/or will identify the new services required to meet the family's needs.

Typically, the TAF will meet every 6-8 weeks to review the actions in the TAF Support Plan.

Don't forget to log your EHA at earlyhelpservice@gateshead.gov.uk regardless of whether you are sending the EHA as a referral to the Early Help Service.

You can call our duty service for advice on 0191 433 3319 or 0191 433 5019 during office hours, Monday to Friday.

What the benefits are to having a Team Around the Family (TAF) process

Families report that they dislike "telling their story again" to numerous professionals and often express frustration that services fail to take a joined-up approach.

The TAF process ensures that services working with the family are clearly co-ordinated with named leads against actions.

Who organises Team Around the Family Meetings

There will be an identified Lead Professional (LP) who will be responsible for organising TAF review dates, sending invites and chairing the meeting.

The LP would typically update the TAF Support Plan and ensure timely distribution of the updated actions.  

Consent to allow Early Help Services to work with your family

You must give consent to allow us to work with your family - the EHA process cannot proceed without the written consent of the parent/carer or young person.

Participation in the EHA process is voluntary.

How many Early Help Assessments can a family have at any one time

Families should have one EHA open at any one time.

The EHA/TAF process may restart at different points where needs/circumstances evolve.

Links to other assessments

Practitioners have discretion on the tools used to inform the EHA where this is appropriate.

This might include use of scaling tools or use of eco maps and genograms.

Forms

Early Help Assessment with brief guidance (Word doc) [49KB] (opens new window)

Early Help Assessment (Word doc) [34KB] (opens new window)