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Prevention and Early Help

Early Help and the role of the Lead Professional (L.P.)  Across the Bradford District.

Bradford Safeguarding Partnership supported by Children’s Services colleagues have developed a suite of documents, tools, and training modules, designed to support partners frontline practitioners who work closely with children and families to deliver  the Lead Practitioner role. The new Early Help arrangements went live on 1 September 2020.

What has changed and what does that mean for partners?

✓  Bradford has now got a new Multiagency Early Help Assessment that has been developed and signed off by BSP Safeguarding and Professional Practice Subgroup.

  • This means that BSP have consulted with a broad range of partners to ensure the new arrangements will be fit for purpose and have full ownership so that not one organisation has responsibility.

✓  The Early Help Assessment Tool (EHAT) is a tool used for gathering information and a standard approach in assessment for the identification of Early Help needs. This is based on discussions with children and their family and other practitioners as appropriate.

  • This means that we can help families at the earliest opportunity, identify and record needs so we build on support and families don’t have to keep repeating themselves to professionals

✓  Partners can now initiate an EHAT with the family they are working with and register them through the Integrated Front Door just like how a MARF is submitted.

  • This means we can progress support needs in a more timely manner for families  and use information to target greater areas of need with local support from all agencies.

✓ We have developed a learning and development programme that has 4 key modules which are; Early Help Assessment and SMART plan, Team Around the Family- chairing meetings and engaging multi agency partners, measuring Impact and family outcomes.

  • This means we can support you through the process at each step of the way.

✓   Bradford Children’s Services has now increased its investment within Early Help and Prevention Service which has a dedicated Team of Early Help Coordinators and Family Hub Managers that work across the District who are solely to support partners to carry out the Lead Professional role and to support them to enhance a more coordinated approach between agencies that will help improve outcome for families.

  • This means you will have dedicated people to support you in your local area

You will see some changes to this website over the coming weeks to reflect the new arrangements and changes in documents as we work with partners to make them as reader friendly as possible - however the interagency safeguarding procedures will remain largely unaltered at this time and all the usual multi-agency training opportunities will continue to be provided.

Part of our IT and systems transformation journey we are in the process of developing a professional portal so partners can submit EHAT’S electronically and also access to Early Help Module system so you can see which partners are currently working with the family and be able to contribute your own intervention and support being carried out with them. We will update you on the progress of this once further development have been confirmed.

Early Help

Early Help is the term used to describe arrangements and services that respond to the needs of children, young people and their families as soon as problems start to emerge at any point in their lives, or when there is a strong likelihood that problems will emerge in the future. Section 10 of the Children Act 2004 requires each local authority to make arrangements to promote cooperation between the authority, each of the authority's relevant partners and such other persons or bodies working with children in the local authority's area as the authority considers appropriate. Further guidance is also provided in the Continuum of Need document .

Critical features of effective Early Help are:

  • A multi-disciplinary approach that brings a range of professional skills and expertise to bear through a ‘Team Around the Child, Young Person / Family’
  • A relationship with a trusted Lead Practitioner who can engage with the child / young person and their Parents and family (mother and father figures and extended family), and coordinate the support needed from other agencies.
  • Practice that empowers families and helps them to develop the capacity to resolve their own problems.
  • A holistic approach that addresses a child / young person’s needs in a wider context
  • Simple, streamlined enquiry and assessment process and response

What is a Lead Practitioner?

The Lead Practitioner is the named professional, identified as the person who will be the family’s main point of contact while they need a coordinated early help package of support. They will be one of a number of practitioners already working with the family.

For more information about the role of Lead Practitioner  please see our:

What is an Early Help coordinator?

Most families who need some additional support will achieve positive outcomes through an integrated team around the family, drawn from universal service provision, for example schools, health visiting. Where the family and the team are struggling to make progress to achieve outcomes, the skills of an Early Help Coordinator can be drawn upon.

Early Help Coordinators work alongside Lead Practitioners and others in universal services offering:

Consultation: about individual children and families using the Continuum of Need and Risk Tool (PDF), Signs of Safety methodology and supporting the Lead Practitioner to analyse evidence when children’s needs have not been met through the plan.

Co-working: supporting Lead Professionals with information sharing to enable a good quality assessment to be completed, co chairing initial meetings, or supporting a TAF if required  ( for example where there are disagreements, or where progress is not being made)

Coaching: through face to face meetings to ensure that assessments and plans are accurate, SMART and meet the needs of the whole family; acting as a role model for effective practice that relies on assertive, persistent, time bound and challenging style of casework;

Collaborating: to co- design bespoke packages of support, guidance and practical tools to support practitioners when working with families;

Ensuing Consistency, by quality assuring multi-agency Early Help plans and providing feedback to the Lead Practitioner and their manage

Early Help Assessment and planning tool

Early Help also happens when services already working with families identify the need for a multi-agency plan. Those practitioners identifying the need for multi-agency support should complete an  Multiagency Early Help Assessment (Word document)  with the family to identify strengths and needs, co-ordinate a Team Around the Family Meeting and share information (with consent) with other agencies. They are drawing on the people who already work with them and the family. Use the impact measuring guide (Word document) to help scale within your assessment.

Team around the family and reviews

Who should I contact if I think the family has more complex needs and may need a period of Family Key Work?

The Early Help Gateway receives referrals for Family Key Work. You need to make a referral for Family Key Work using the multi-agency referral form (MARF). Please also refer to the Continuum of Need and Risk Identification Tool (PDF) which offers guidance for improving outcomes for children and young people through the early identification of need, risk and vulnerability.

The Early Help Gateway It is made up of workers and managers from Early Help, the Police and Families Information Service. There is also involvement from social workers and Primary Mental Health Link Workers. They will use Signs of Safety in their conversations with you. If you need to email the gateway and have a secure email, please email:  

If you have a Bradford Schools Online account please return your completed form(s) using the PostBox. Ensure you select the "TEH - Request for support" folder from the list of folders on the left before clicking the Upload File button.

Good practice would be to complete the referral form with the parent. This means you can obtain as much detail as possible.

In order to process your referral for Family Key Work in a timely manner we need the following information to be included:

  • Clear indication that the person with parental responsibility has given consent -we will accept verbal consent at this stage but this must be clearly indicated on the referral form.
  • Family address including postcode and any other significant adults the family have - these may be a source of support.
  • All people living in the child's household including their dates of birth and ethnic origin.
  • Agencies that the family may already be involved with.
  • If any of the children you are referring have a EHCP or a disability diagnosis it would be useful if you could also attach the plan/multi agency diagnosis report.

Using Signs of Safety means the Gateway staff will focus on:

  • what is the family member or worker worried about?
  • what is going well for the family and who already helps them?
  • how we think extra support may help this family?

Who do I contact if I think a child is at risk of harm?

If you have a concern that a child is being harmed as a result of abuse or neglect, YOU MUST NOT keep these concerns to yourself.  You should call:

  • Children's Initial Contact Point - 01274 435600 during office hours
  • At all other times, call the Emergency Duty Team on 01274 431010
  • If you have reason to believe that a child is at immediate risk of harm, contact the police on 999

Flow chart for responding to concerns about a child (PDF).

Visit these pages if you are concerned about adult abuse or domestic violence.

Signs of Safety

Who should I contact if I still think the family needs additional early help and support?

As part of our prevention and early help offer, each Family Hub area delivers targeted support groups in partnership with other organisations like local schools and the voluntary sector. The groups we presently provide are outlined in the Quick Guide (Word document).

For a timetable of the groups and activities planned in your area, please visit the Family Hub webpage. Please note that we do not publish dates of the Freedom programmes but they are run in each hub area.

In order to ensure families get to the right Hub area and type of support quickly we need all referrers to:

  • Step one: Check the main family post code to identify the Family Hub area. 
  • Step two: Complete the referral/registration form for group work (Word document) with the relevant family members. In order to accept a referral, we ask that the referral and group is discussed with the family, the family are given a copy of the relevant section of the Quick Guide and that they give their SIGNED consent.
  • Step three: Send the fully completed form to the correct Hub area for the family’s address.

Once received, each Family Hub will review the referral within 24 hours and will be in touch if they need to clarify any information.

You and the family will then be provided with details of the next available place on the group for the family member to attend.

For most of the groups fully completed referral forms should be sent directly to the relevant Family Hub: / 01274 434940 / 01274 436700 / 01535 618005 / 01274 437523

For CYGNET completed referrals go to