Early Help

mother and baby

Reshaping Early Help - A Community Offer

Alongside its partners Lambeth CCG and Council is rethinking its ‘Early Help Offer’ to children and families, especially for those experiencing significant difficulties who don’t meet social care referral thresholds. This is an exciting opportunity for all statutory and voluntary sector partners to feel united and confident in practicing a ‘whole family’ approach to support families as soon as needs emerge.

Navigating thresholds and referral pathways can be confusing; the developing offer will ensure that Early Help Service staff and community organisations can support and collaborate by sharing best practice and challenges. Already there is excellent, innovative work happening across the partnership – this simple framework, to be used by all, will only strengthen this work.

The recently established Early Help Steering Group is helping this drive forward, with representatives from Children’s social care, the Voluntary sector, Community Safety, Health, The Police, Job Centre Plus, Housing, Education and Adult commissioning, and Safeguarding.

Over the coming two months we want your involvement, and together we’ll co-produce a framework through upbeat community and staff workshops. These will be advertised here.

If you are currently working with families in the borough or If you’re improving your families’ outcomes, then be part of the new Early Help offer - we’d love to hear from you!

Let’s build an Early Help offer from the ground up - contact shaff@know-wonder.org

Lambeth Council Early Help Service

The Lambeth Council Early Help teams include Early Intervention Social Workers and Early Help Practitioners, NEET advisers, Educational Welfare Team, Employment Advisers and Early Help Team Managers. The service has three main foci:

  • A ‘whole family’ approach for all families with multiple needs: A whole family approach is implemented across the service to achieve and sustain positive change for families with multiple needs.
  • A service which is better able to provide support to families with multiple needs at threshold tier 3, and so prevent escalation of need to a level which requires statutory social work intervention.
  • The national requirements of the Troubled Families (TF) programme is served by the service as a whole and support the achievement of targets in this area.

The Early Help service consists of two area based teams working with children, young people and their families from the age of 0 (or in the antenatal period where need is identified) to 19, and to 24 where the child or young person has a disability. Though currently there are a number of ways for children and young people to access the service: through data identification in line with the TF approach; through CAF referral; through the Social Care front door; and through the established ‘step down’ process from social care, soon all referrals into the Early Help Service will come through the front door or through the TF data identification.

As the National Troubled Families Programme has now entered its second stage, the eligibility criteria have broadened to include families who meet two or more of the following:

  • Parents and children involved in crime or anti-social behaviour
  • Children who have not been attending school regularly in the last 3 consecutive terms
  • Children who need help: children of all ages, who need help, are identified as in need or are subject to a Child Protection Plan
  • Adults out of work or at risk of financial exclusion or young people at risk of worklessness
  • Families affected by domestic violence and abuse
  • Parents and children with a range of health problems

The council is required to work with 3,480 families over the five year period 2015-20, we are currently in year 2, however we started early in September 2014 because Lambeth was a high achiever on phase 1 of the programme.

The Government has clear criteria about the way in which a family should be supported on the TF Programme. The Council is required to demonstrate that this has achieved significant and sustained outcomes. This way of working is as follows:

  • There must be an assessment that takes into account the needs of the whole family
  • There must be an action plan that takes account of all (relevant) family members
  • There must be a lead worker for the family that is recognised by the family and other professionals involved with the family
  • The objectives in the family action plan must be aligned to those in the area’s Troubled Families Outcomes Plan

Contact the Integrated Referral Hub:

From 1st August, both Early help and Child protection referrals will be processed by the Lambeth Integrated Referral Hub. If you are a professional, please follow up your referral for Early Help in writing by filling in the new Multi Agency Referral Form (MARF) and sending to to the above email. However, where schools, health and other services have already begun support with families (as part of a tier 2 offer) and an assessment framework is being used (potentially a CAF), then it is important that the assessment currently in use is attached to the MARF to provide increased oversight and rationale for enhanced services from the local authority.


Young Lambeth website