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Early help and children’s services: exploring provision and practice across English local authorities

Early help and children’s services: exploring provision and practice across English local... The purpose of this study was to explore early help provision to children and families not reaching the Children Act (1989) child in need threshold, across all 152 English local authorities in 2017.Design/methodology/approachA freedom of information request was used, in September 2017, to obtain information regarding recorded numbers, attributes and referral reasons for Early Help cases, case categorisation, professional groups involved in this provision and models of practice.FindingsResponses revealed there are no common protocols categorising referrals and identified needs of children and young people. Child behavioural issues were the most frequently occurring category followed by parenting issues and child emotional well-being. The numbers of children engaged by Early Help services varied with a range between Barnsley with 7.8% of children under 18 years old and Richmond on Thames with 0.33% and only exceeded children in need in a 7 out of 71 reporting authorities. Models of practice used were most commonly based on the assessment framework, which operates at all social work thresholds including child protection. The enquiry found a diverse workforce involved in Early Help and sets it within a context of local thresholds for dealing with large increases in referral rates to children’s services departments in recent years.Originality/valueThe study provides a unique insight into the nature and scope of Early Help provision across England. The relationship between existing thresholds of intervention in the child welfare system is underexplored in the social work literature. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Children's Services Emerald Publishing

Early help and children’s services: exploring provision and practice across English local authorities

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
© Emerald Publishing Limited
ISSN
1746-6660
DOI
10.1108/jcs-03-2020-0006
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore early help provision to children and families not reaching the Children Act (1989) child in need threshold, across all 152 English local authorities in 2017.Design/methodology/approachA freedom of information request was used, in September 2017, to obtain information regarding recorded numbers, attributes and referral reasons for Early Help cases, case categorisation, professional groups involved in this provision and models of practice.FindingsResponses revealed there are no common protocols categorising referrals and identified needs of children and young people. Child behavioural issues were the most frequently occurring category followed by parenting issues and child emotional well-being. The numbers of children engaged by Early Help services varied with a range between Barnsley with 7.8% of children under 18 years old and Richmond on Thames with 0.33% and only exceeded children in need in a 7 out of 71 reporting authorities. Models of practice used were most commonly based on the assessment framework, which operates at all social work thresholds including child protection. The enquiry found a diverse workforce involved in Early Help and sets it within a context of local thresholds for dealing with large increases in referral rates to children’s services departments in recent years.Originality/valueThe study provides a unique insight into the nature and scope of Early Help provision across England. The relationship between existing thresholds of intervention in the child welfare system is underexplored in the social work literature.

Journal

Journal of Children's ServicesEmerald Publishing

Published: Feb 1, 2021

Keywords: Social work; Early intervention; Early help; Child welfare; Children and families

References