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Providing early help is more effective in promoting the welfare of children than reacting later. Early help means providing support as soon as a problem emerges, at any point in a child’s life, from the foundation years through to the teenage years.

Early help can also prevent further problems arising; for example, if it is provided as part of a support plan where a child has returned home to their family from care, or in families where there are emerging parental mental health issues or drug and alcohol misuse.

In Derbyshire we believe that every child and young person should have the opportunity to reach their full potential and that they are best supported to grow and achieve within their own families and communities.

There will always be some children, young people and families who will need our support and we are committed to ensuring we work with them to identify their own solutions, building on their own strengths and assets.

In doing so we will ensure that, where services are delivered, they will be flexible to meet children’s and families’ needs. Our approach supports a shift of focus away from managing short-term crises, towards effective support for children and young people and their families at an earlier stage, with them at the centre of enabling environments rather than them being dependent on organised public services.

Wherever possible, the needs of children, young people and families will be met by practitioners within universal services. In Derbyshire we have a shared partnership vision that if early help is needed, we will ensure we do the following:

  • work to families’ strengths
  • focus on preventing issues before they occur and offer flexible responsive support when and where it is required
  • build the resilience of parents, children, young people and communities to support each other
  • work together to align resources so we can best support families
  • where needs are emerging or low level, individual services and universal services may be able to meet these needs, take swift action and prevent those needs escalating. Agencies who identify the emerging needs of a child and their family should complete the Early Help Assessment (EHA).

If you're worried about your child's health or development, you can speak to your health visitor, doctor, school nurse or someone at your child's school or early years setting.

Derbyshire’s 22 children's centres provide support and interventions around child development, parenting, and school readiness. Your health visitor or early years provider can help you to access these - please ask them to undertake an Early Help Assessment with you to support this.

Derbyshire County Council has an Early Help Transition Team that is in place to support agencies to develop and deliver early help interventions. The Transition team publish information in Community Updates for Families.

There are emotional wellbeing and mental health support services available for children, young people, and parents.

Targeted Early Help with Children's Services

Our 6 locality-based early help teams work in partnership with schools, health and other universal support teams who can offer information, advice and practical support before the involvement of children's services.

Our targeted early help offers:

  • 0 to 5 and children's centres teams, working closely with health visitors and early years providers, support with speech and language development, healthy eating, parenting and school readiness
  • targeted early help teams for family and youth support, providing parenting groups, youth groups and individual family focussed support, including parenting routines and family relationships, reducing conflict, healthy lifestyle choices and reducing risks of exploitation

They also support in circumstances where children and young people are:

  • not in education, training, or employment after the age of 16
  • at risk of exploitation into criminal activity, drug or substance misuse, vulnerable to be groomed into sexual exploitation (including online grooming)
  • carers for other family members

Partner agencies are able to access targeted early help for vulnerable children and families through Starting Point by completing an online early help request form. Requests will be triaged, and the locality early help teams will work with local partners to provide the most appropriate level of support.

Your health visitor, health professional, early years provider, school or college will be able to support you initially with early help and can refer to children's services if you think more targeted support would be helpful.

If the child already has an allocated early help team worker or social worker, please liaise directly with the allocated worker.

If your request is about an immediate child protection issue or your concern is urgent, please telephone 01629 533190.