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Delivering Effective Support for Children and Families - Understanding the Continuum of Children's Needs


Introduction

All agencies working within the Safeguarding Partnership Board have a responsibility to address the needs of children and young people in the island. Effective joint working ensures children’s needs can be met across the continuum.

Children and families are supported most effectively and efficiently when services are planned and delivered in a co-ordinated way. The vision for children, young people and their families is to have the right service at the right time to meet identified need and for these services to be delivered and supported by flexible and responsive practitioners.

Services that provide early help are part of the continuum of help and support responding to individual children and family’s needs.

This framework provides everyone with clear direction and advice about what to do and how to respond if a child and family appear to need extra help and support. We are determined to put the child at the centre of all we do and expect professionals across the system to ensure the child is at the centre of planning, decision making and service delivery.

To do this we need to have a shared understanding and language of the needs of the child and family so we can work effectively together to make a real difference. This will support a consistency of practice in responding to children and young people who need extra help.

This guidance is for all who work with children, young people and families in Jersey. It sets out levels of children's needs Universal, Early Help, Considerable or Complex and Acute or Significant needs.

All children access universal services such as schools, health visiting and youth services. These services are well placed to recognise and respond when extra support may be needed. Children will always receive some universal services whatever their needs may be.

There are times when extra help and support may be needed, perhaps because the child's needs become increasingly complex or because of parental or family circumstances. Children who have emerging or complex needs may need some more targeted support from a range of services.

We know, in most situations, parents want the best for their children and are best placed to meet their needs. When thinking about how to support families, an assessment needs to consider any previous history of support, any vulnerability, both risk and protective factors and the context they are living in. This should be considered with the guidance that follows.

This guidance describes potential indicators of concern for children and their families and can be used to enhance and support collective understanding of risk. This will help inform “professional conversations” between services and practitioners, improving the quality and consistency of assessments. Helping us to have a good understanding of the “lived experience of the child”.

Please note, there will always be circumstances that are not covered in this document and it is not intended to replace the professional judgement of practitioners. If in doubt advice should always be sought from a line manager, designated safeguarding lead or the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub.

Remember, Never Do Nothing.

Principles

  • Wherever possible children and young people’s needs will be met by universal services
  • As soon as any practitioner becomes aware that a child may have emerging needs and this may need the support of more than one service or those needs are unclear they should discuss this with the family and consider using the Early Help Approach
  • We will work to empower families to identify their own issues and solutions and support them to do this
  • We will be honest, open and transparent in our approach to supporting children and their families
  • We will identify problems as early as possible so that the child and family receive help and support in a timely way to prevent the problem becoming worse or entrenched
  • We will never do nothing – if we think a family needs support we will get involved and keep trying to make a difference
  • We will treat families and each other with respect, being clear about mutual expectations and communicate clearly
  • By identifying and responding to children with emerging needs and by providing co-ordinated multi-agency support and services when needed, we seek to prevent more children and young people requiring statutory interventions and reactive specialist services.

When thinking about levels of need please consider:

  • How is the family coping?
  • Are the child’s needs being met?
  • Has the child had an opportunity to speak, be heard and listened to?
  • Do I have a picture of the family as a whole?
  • Have I considered parenting capacity and environmental factors?
  • Have I thought about past support and service involvement?
  • Have I considered risk and protective factors?
  • Have I discussed my concerns with the child/family and offered help?
  • Have I consent to engage other services if needed?
  • Have I been professionally curious?
  • Have I considered each child in the family?

Amendments to this Chapter

This chapter was updated in March 2017, Introduction, Principles and an updated link to Delivering Effective Support for Children and Families - Understanding the Continuum of Children's Needs was added.

End.