Early Help Assessment/ Team around the Child (TAC)

The Early Help Assessment process helps practitioners to assess needs at an early stage and then work with the child/young person, their families and other practitioners and agencies to meet those needs. The Early Help Assessment form which can be found at http://microsites.lincolnshire.gov.uk/children/practitioners/team-around-the-child/ should be used to undertake this assessment. The assessment needs to be undertaken with the consent of the parents and child/young person where appropriate.

An Early Help Offer includes universal and targeted services and is designed to reduce or prevent specific problems from escalating, prevent abuse and neglect and improve outcomes for children and families as a whole. Where the assessment identifies support needs that cannot be met by a single agency or service, there needs to be a co-ordinated multi-agency response by putting in place a Team around the Child (TAC). If need relates to a child disability then a referral to ESCO (Early Support Care co-ordination) should be undertaken.

An Early Help Assessment is designed for use when:

• There are worries about how well a child/young person is progressing
• There are worries regarding their health, development, welfare, behaviour, progress in learning or any other aspect of wellbeing.
• The child or young person’s needs are unclear, or broader than your service can provide
• Additional needs are identified regarding an unborn baby during the antenatal period

Click here for advice regarding when to consider undertaking an Early Help Assessment / TAC

Practitioners should be alert to the potential need to undertake an Early Help Assessment in the following circumstances (NB: this is not an exhaustive list):

  • A significant change or worrying feature in a child’s appearance, demeanour or behaviour has been observed.
  • Showing early signs of abuse and/or neglect and /or sexual exploitation
  • A significant event in a child’ life has occurred, or where there are worries about the parents, carers or home.
  • Where a child, parent or another PR actioner has requested an assessment.
  • Parental elements i.e. parental substance abuse/misuse, domestic abuse or physical or mental health issues which may impact on the welfare of the child.
  • Developmental delay or making slower progress at school.
  • Regularly missing medical appointments, immunisations etc.
  • Disability with specific additional needs.
  • Special educational needs
  • The child Is a young carer
  • Showing signs of engaging in anti-social behaviour, criminal behaviour or misusing substances
  • Bereaved or experiencing family breakdown
  • Bullied or are bullies themselves
  • Disadvantages for reasons such as race, gender, sexuality, religious beliefs or disability
  • Homeless or being threatened with eviction, and those living in temporary accommodation
  • Becoming a teenage parent or is the child of teenage parents
  • Not being ready to make the transition to post 16 services.
  • Persistent absence from school or risk of permanent exclusion.
  • The child/young person Is in a family circumstance presenting challenges for the child, such as substance abuse, adult mental health, domestic violence and/or
  • Is showing early signs of abuse and/or neglect and/or sexual exploitation.

Early Help services are also integral to cases stepping down out of Children’s Social Care services, to enable a lower level of help to be offered to reduce future need for high level support and statutory intervention.

However at any time during the Early Help Assessment process if it is considered that the child may be a child in need as defined in the Children Act 1989, or that the child has suffered significant harm or is likely to do so, a referral should be made to Lincolnshire Children’s Social Care.

Meeting the Needs of Children in Lincolnshire document http://lincolnshirescb.proceduresonline.com/pdfs/meeting_the_needs.pdf provides an overview of the continuum of needs of all children in Lincolnshire and the thresholds of intervention. It is important that all practitioners are familiar with this document and have access to it.

Lincolnshire’s Early Help offer puts the responsibility on all professionals to identify emerging problems and potential unmet needs for individual children and families, irrespective of whether they are providing services to children or adults. The professionals working mainly in universal services such (eg.GP’s and primary care staff, health visitors, school nurses, and those providing educational services at any age), are best placed to identify children, young people and families in need of this early support.

Guidance on the Early Help Process and Team Around the Child (TAC) can be found at www.lincolnshirechildren.net website at the link below:

Further support and information can also be obtained by contacting the local Early Help Consultants and/or TAC Administrators which are aligned to the 7 Local District Councils within Lincolnshire at the following link:

A face to face one day training session regarding Early Help is also offered by the LSCB. Details can be found at http://www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/lscb/professionals/support/training/124632.article