Family Support Services
Family Support Services are also known as ‘Early Help’. Early help is about working with children, young people and their families to offer the right support at an early stage before a small need becomes a bigger one.
A number of different professionals and organisations may be involved in the early help process to offer support in a range of areas. The goal of early help is to support families to resolve their own problems and prevent further problems in the future.
How do I get some support?
A referral needs to be made to get extra help from the Children’s Centres. Normally this would be made by another professional eg your midwife or health visitor.
Occasionally parents self-refer for help or a worker from the centre may suggest you may benefit from additional support and they can help you with the process
How long will I have to wait?
We allocate referrals to family support workers every two weeks. A worker should get in contact with you to let you know that they’ve been asked to support you and make arrangements to meet with you.
Sometimes when there have been a lot of referrals we have to use a waiting list. In this instance you can still expect to be contacted within 3 weeks of the referral being made to let you know that you are on the list.
What sort of help is available?
Family Support Workers are very resourceful and can help with all kinds of difficulties. Often they will draw on the experience and support of other agencies to find the help that your family needs. Our main priority is always your children. Therefore, any support we provide will be linked to how this will impact on the lives of the children in the family. For example, you might agree to help you seek support for debts because in the long term if they are not resolved it can cause additional worry and strain on the family that will impact on how you are as a parent.
Examples of ways in which staff have helped include:
• Toilet training advice and support
• Managing difficult/unwanted behaviour
• Signposting to debt advice
• Liason with housing support workers
• Supporting parents to make suitable contact arrangements when relationships breakdown
• Home safety equipment
• Completing benefits claims, creating CVs and writing job applications
• Supporting children’s transition from home to pre-school (for children with disabilities)
Is it confidential?
As a rule the information will not be shared with anyone else unless you agree for us to do so. However, there may be times when people working with you have a duty to share information. For example:
• If we need to find out urgently if you or someone else is at risk of harm
• To help stop a crime
You will be asked to let us know who you are happy for us to discuss your difficulties with so we can help you. For example, we work closely with the local health visitors and if your concern is about your child’s health or development then it is in their best interests that we have your consent to talk about the problem with other professionals who are involved. This helps us to work in partnership to get the best outcomes for your child.
If there is anyone in particular or any organisation that you specifically do not wish us to share your information with you can let us know and a record will be kept on the file.
You can expect staff to explain this to you in more detail during their first meeting with you.
The way we work
Family support workers will carry out an assessment of your current situation. This will include your family’s strengths as well as discussing the difficulties. This will help you to identify what needs to happen to make the situation better for your family. Together you can identify some goals that you want to work towards.
Some of the actions will be for the worker to carry out but there will also be a commitment required from family members to help achieve them. Your worker will regularly review progress towards your goals.
We always include the wishes and feelings of children in the family to ensure that their voice is heard. This can be difficult when children are very young so we take into account the child’s behaviour which is often an indicator of how they are feeling.
What is a Family Support Process?
Finding out what is going okay, and which areas you and your family might like some support with, is a bit like doing a jigsaw puzzle. We need to have all the pieces before we can put them together to make the whole picture, and then together we can decide the best way to help.
If you agree, your worker will use the family support process form to gather the right information to share with others who can help. By doing this you should only need to tell your story once.
A team, including you and your family, will decide the best way to help, and will work with you to put together a plan of action. Those involved will agree with you what needs to be done and be clear about who is going to do it.
A lead worker will be chosen. You and your family should have a say in who this person is going to be.
The lead worker is your main contact if there are a number of people working to support your family. The lead worker will keep you informed of what is happening and be there to answer your questions and support you through the early help process. They will also organise and be the contact for the other professionals and agencies working with you