Accessing Early Help for Children and Families in Cornwall

Children’s community health and social care services

What is Early Help?

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Early Help includes help provided in both early childhood and early in the development of a problem. Early Help is available to children and young people of all ages from pre-birth up to the age of 18, and up to the age of 25 where young people have special educational needs or disability.

Vision for Early Help

Early Help in Cornwall aims to ensure that services to support children, young people and their parents are there when they need them. Early Help is about identifying problems at an early stage and providing purposeful and effective help as soon as possible once they have been identified, working with families to solve those problems before they get worse.

What is the Early Help Hub?

The Early Help Hub is the single point of access for council and community based health Early Help services for children, young people and families in Cornwall. This is the point of contact for advice and requests for support for a child or young person who:

  • May have additional needs that cannot be met solely by universal services and;
  • Where there is no perceived risk of significant harm.

The team within the Hub will consist of:

  • Contact workers, from a variety of backgrounds including Early Years, Social Care, Education and Early Help, who will process the Requests for Help.
  • A professional triage team, from a variety of professional disciplines, who will offer advice, guidance and support on all aspects of Early Help. They will also make recommendations in response to the Requests for Help.
  • A Manager who will be responsible for the operation of the Hub and will sign off all recommendations and decisions.

The Early Help Hub Offer

How will the Hub respond to Requests for Help?

  • A Request for Help form is completed and submitted to the Hub.
  • A contact worker will carry out additional checks against a range of systems to ensure we are as informed as we can be about the Request.
  • In most cases, the Request will be passed to a professional triage worker who will explore it further to make a recommended a response. These may include:
    • Additional information gathering and screening by specialist clinical teams
    • Assignment to a health or council locality team to provide an Early Help service
    • Provision of information, advice and guidance.
  • The recommendation is reviewed and signed off by the Hub Manager where appropriate.
  • Professionals, parents, young people and members of the public can also ring the Hub to seek advice and support on Early Help services.

The following forms should be used to request help from each service.

Early Help Hub - this form should be used for Health Visiting (over 2 years), School Nursing, Family Support, Targeted Youth Support, Parenting Support, Video Interaction Guidance and Early Years Inclusion Service - or if you are unsure which Early Help service is required

If you are unsure which form to use, please use the Early Help Hub request for help form.

For advice and consultation, please call 01872 322277. The Hub is open Monday to Thursday, 8.45am to 5.15pm and 8.45am to 4.45pm on Fridays. To make a Request for Help, please complete the relevant Request for Help form and send it to earlyhelphub@cornwall.gov.uk . You will note that there is one general form for Requests for the following services:

  • Health Visiting (over 2 years)
  • School Nursing
  • Family Support
  • Targeted Youth Support
  • Parenting Support
  • Video Interaction Guidance
  • Family Group Conferencing
  • Early Years Inclusion Service

This form can also be used if a need for Early Help has been identified but the person making the Request is unsure of the most appropriate service to meet the need.

Cornwall Council takes matters of data protection very seriously and is currently developing an on-line secure form through which Requests for Early Help can be made. In the meantime, if the information you are submitting is very sensitive and you have concerns about sending it via email, please contact cyber-safety@cornwall.gov.uk where other channels may be discussed and offered to you.

The Family Information Service (FIS) can be contacted for general information on services for children and families in Cornwall, including all Ofsted registered childcare providers. Contact details for FIS are telephone 0800 587 8191.

The creation of the Early Help Hub does not affect current processes and procedures for safeguarding. If you are concerned that a child is at risk of harm, please contact the Multi-Agency Referral Unit (MARU) on 0300 1231 116.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I am unsure if I should go to the Multi-Agency Referral Unit (MARU) or the Early Help Hub?

The threshold document will give you a clear idea of the best level of service to approach, but within both teams are professionals that you can consult with. If there are safeguarding risks and immediate concerns then you should always go directly to the MARU for advice. For all other enquiries, speak to the Early Help Hub. Remember “there is no wrong front door”. The Hub will co-located with the MARU and the managers of each will work closely together to ensure every child receives the right help at the right time by the right service. 

What should I say to families about the Hub?

It is important to explain that the Hub works to a consent and collaboration model. You can explain that it is about being as sensitive to the family’s needs as possible and ensuring the right services are offered.

Do I need consent from the families to make a Request?

Yes. We want our work to be as collaborative as possible and that means making requests for families that they not only consent to but fully understand. However, you can make an enquiry and ask for advice without consent. If for some reason you feel you need to make a request without consent (e.g. for CAMHS), please contact the Hub to discuss this.

What about CAF and TAC?

Procedures around the Common Assessment Framework and Team Around the Child process will continue as before.

The following services are available through the Early Help Hub:

Please note that the Early Help Hub is the point of contact to request community health services, not acute hospital or emergency services.

Information from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)

The Welfare Reform and Work Act (2016) introduces some changes to the benefit cap. These changes, which will take effect in autumn 2016, include changes to the benefit cap levels to £23,000 a year for couples with or without children and lone parents and £15,410 for single people without children in Greater London, and £20,000 and £13,400 respectively for those groups elsewhere in Great Britain. They also include additional exemptions for recipients of Guardian’s Allowance, Carer’s Allowance and Universal Credit claimants who receive payments towards carer’s costs.

For more information about the benefit cap changes please visit www.Gov.UK/benefit-cap.