Leeds is ambitious for its children and young people, with the aim of making the city truly child-friendly, and the best in the UK for children to grow up in.
Central to this ambition is to ensure that all children, young people and their families in Leeds receive the help they need as soon as they need it from people they know already. This is termed as having the right conversation with the right person at the right time.
Key to achieving this ambition is a citywide, multi-agency commitment to providing effective, proportionate and high quality early help and supporting families to have their needs met in their local communities.
Common across recent reviews and policy developments such as Working Together 2018 and the Munro Report is the recognition that effective early help for children and families improves outcomes long-term.
In Leeds our early help approach has been informed by what children, young people and families tell us about what they find helpful when they need help additional to that which is universally available.
What do we mean by early help?
Early help is the term used in Leeds to describe our approach on a whole range of individual social, health and educational issues when providing support to children, young people and their families as soon as problems emerge, or re-emerge.
Families should be enabled and supported to have the right conversations, with the right people and at the right time about their needs or concerns, so that statutory interventions can be avoided where this is appropriate.
Early help is voluntary and consent from children, young people and their families to work with them should always be sought.
Intervening as early as possible, regardless of the age of the child or young person, can positively improve their outcomes.
Early help is a collaborative approach not a provision and relies on local agencies working together effectively with families to identify who needs help and then to meet their varied needs. Early help can be provided through a single agency or a multi-agency response as appropriate to the needs of the child and family and the concern.
Leeds early help approach:
Early in the life of the problem - whatever the age of the child or young person.
Early to respond when problems emerge, or re-emerge.
Help to prevent concerns getting worse and avoid the need for statutory intervention.
Support in school, home and community through a graduated approach.
Quality work with families already takes place across Leeds, day in and day out, by schools, health services, children centres and other early year’s settings, services provided or commissioned through our cluster collaborative model, restorative early support teams and a range of other agencies and services.
Our early help approach includes our commitment to shifting the balance of power so that our work is family led and not led by practitioners. An element of this involves families being supported to come together to utilise their own resources and strengths to overcome challenges.
The Leeds early help approach in line with Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 also includes proactive and planned support for those children and young people stepping down from statutory social work interventions or specialist care.
Our commitment – ‘Early Help is Everybody’s Business’
Leeds benefits from robust, effective, successful and longstanding multi-agency working across the diverse and rich partnership in the city. The Leeds partnership is committed to providing the support that children, young people and their families need, as soon as they need it, when they need it and by the people who are best placed to help. All agencies see early help as part of our ‘day job’ and work to the following early commitment:
We will provide help and support to those who need it without delay. By establishing positive and trusting relationships with families, we will work with them to identify what they need to address their particular concerns and problems.