This information is for professionals. If you'd like to learn more about the process, visit our early help assessment information for parents and families page.
We have adapted the Common Assessment Framework (CAF) and created the Early Help Assessment (EHA). The change responds to feedback from partner agencies and families that a more user-friendly assessment was required. The EHA has been created using feedback from young people, parents and professionals across Oxfordshire.
We want all children and young people to have the best start in life and receive the ongoing support they and their families need to fulfil their potential.
Services for all children and young people (such as schools, colleges, early years settings, health visiting) have a key role in promoting wellbeing and preventing problems. For most children and young people, high-quality universal services will enable them to achieve good outcomes and reach their full potential.
We must involve the family as a whole in the early help assessment. It's vital to capture 'the voice of the child'. We need to understand their views, wishes and feelings and (where possible) act upon them as part of the action plan.
The role of all involved staff
All staff should be aware of the early help process and understand their role in it. The process can include:
- identifying emerging problems
- liaising with the designated safeguarding lead
- sharing information with other professionals to support early identification and assessment
- acting as the lead professional.
Team around the family (TAF) meetings
Following an EHA assessment, if a multi-agency response is required, a TAF should be arranged by the EHA author.
The child or young person and their parent or carer must be kept at the centre of the process.
Invite relevant practitioners as identified through the EHA assessment and after discussion with the family.
Decide who the lead professional should be before the first TAF meeting.
When appropriate, a social worker will coordinate and lead an exit from social care to a TAF. They may invite the locality community support worker to support the beginning stages from statutory to community-based support.
Where to get resources
TAF materials, including practitioners and managers guides, are available on the OSCB website.
After TAF meetings
Review notes are sent to everyone who attended the meeting or sent apologies.
Send all minutes of the TAF meeting to your LCSS team to store.
The TAF Team will deliver agreed actions. The team will liaise with the lead professional to monitor and review progress.
Ending an early help assessment and closing the TAF
When things are better for the family, and all the actions have been met on the plan, the TAF can close the EHA.
The TAF Team must record their final comments on their experience. Send TAF notes and closure and evaluation forms completed by a family member to the LCSS team.
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Who can be the lead professional
The lead professional is a professional who has the experience and feels confident with EHA/TAF process. The professional may have undertaken training. The family must know the professional.
Decisions about who should be the lead professional should be taken on a case by case basis and should be informed by the child's wishes and their family.
The lead professional role could be a:
- general practitioner (GP)
- family support worker
- health visitor
- special educational needs coordinator.
Role of the lead professional
The lead professional is a single point of contact for:
- the child, young person and family
- all practitioners working with a child.
Many TAF processes require multiple reviews, and during this period, the lead professional role may need to change as the support changes. The EHA /TAF should be undertaken by a lead professional who can:
- provide support to the child and family
- act as an advocate on their behalf
- coordinate the delivery of support services.
The lead professional should:
- use the TAF meetings to enable integrated multi-agency support
- coordinate delivery of solution-focused actions and ensure regular reviews
- identify where others may need to be involved and broker involvement
- continue support, if appropriate, when specialist assessments are needed
- support the child/young person through key transition points
- ensure a safe and planned handover if a different lead professional is agreed upon and more appropriate.
Lead professional materials, including practitioners' and managers' guides, factsheets and details about the role, are available on the OSCB website.
What the lead professional does not do
The lead professional:
- does not need any particular qualifications and will not be expected to work outside their usual remit
- does not become responsible for the needs of the entire family
- does not have to be solely responsible for taking the minutes – this can be shared as a collective group on a rotational basis
- is not responsible or accountable for actions by other practitioners or services in the TAF
- is not automatically the person who initiated the EHA
- does not need any particular qualifications and will not be expected to work outside their usual remit.
Management for lead professionals and the TAF
Lead professionals should expect managers to ensure:
- lead professional responsibilities are taken into account when setting caseloads
- performance in delivering the lead professional functions is recognised and recorded
- clear communication between agencies to support lead professional practice
- appropriate and up to date training and supervision are provided along with coaching and mentoring where appropriate.
TAF practitioners should also expect support to fulfil their responsibilities.
The Locality and Community Support Service will deliver 'early help assessment' and 'team around the family' training on behalf of the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board (OSCB); these training dates replace previous CAF/TAF training.
For future dates and to book these courses, please visit http://www.oscb.org.uk/booking-training/.
Raising a concern
If you are concerned about a child/family, but it is not an immediate safeguarding concern, refer to the threshold of needs matrix. The matrix is on the OSCB website.
The matrix is designed to support professionals to decide whether contact needs to be made with children's services and, if so, which team.
If, after consulting the threshold of need, you still have concerns for a child that does not require an immediate safeguarding response, then you should contact your Locality and Community Support Service to discuss.
Targeted early help referral route
LCSS will work with partners to identify those families who require additional support from the Targeted Early Help Team.