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Early Help and Social Care (Local Offer)

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Early Help, Early Years and Early Support

You may have come across the three terms Early Help, Early Years and Early Support. So what do they mean?  What is the difference?  Below we have tried to describe each term. 

Early Help (0-19) 

The term Early Help is used to describe the process of taking action early and as soon as possible to tackle problems and issues emerging for children, young people and their families.

Early Years (0-5)

Early years refers to children from birth to the age of five.  The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to five years old. All schools and Ofsted-registered early years providers must follow the EYFS, including childminders, preschools, nurseries and school reception classes.  View more details on our Early Years and Childcare (Local Offer) web page.

Early Support (0-5)

Early Support in Peterborough is a pathway for children in their pre-school years with complex health, education, or care needs.  These children will require considerable ongoing support from across education, health and care. This includes: 

  • children who have great difficulty communicating

  • children who have sensory or physical difficulties 

  • children who have complex health needs 

View more details on our Early Years and Childcare (Local Offer) web page.


The Early Help in Peterborough leaflet

Support available for you

The Early Help in Peterborough leaflet provides lots of information to help you find out about the support available for you and your family and how to get the help you need.

View the Early Help in Peterborough leaflet 

View the Early Help in Peterborough leaflet in an accessible text version

View the Early Help in Peterborough leaflet in a number of other languages:



How do I access an Early Help Assessment?

Early Help Assessments

We promote the use of the Early Help Assessment as the tool for recording the family’s unmet needs. We believe the document should be a holistic assessment that captures the family’s strengths and needs. It should ask what is going really well? What is not going so well and causing some concern or worry? What do the family and those working with them think needs to happen, and what are the next steps to help that happen?

The Early Help Assessment is a single assessment that is created with the family. It should reflect their views, wishes and feelings and what they want to change. It is shared when appropriate [and where there is consent] with other professionals who are working in a coordinated way to support the family.

Early Help Assessments are completed by any professional or partner agency who comes into direct contact with families, and who has identified more than one unmet need that would benefit from a multi-agency support approach. Early Help Assessments are initiated on an electronic case management system known as the Early Help Module or EHM. Training is provided for all professionals who might need to complete an Early Help Assessment with a family or contribute to one that another professional has started. The Early Help Module shares the same database of families as the Children’s Social Care system on Liquid Logic which supports the step-up and step-down process.

Accessing Early Help

Utilising all the resources available

Early Help is not a service in a conventional sense. It is a philosophy of how we can utilise all the resources available in families, communities, the voluntary sector and public bodies to provide timely and effective support when it is needed. 

We believe that by supporting children and families earlier we can stop any problems they are facing from getting worse and help them to find the solutions that will make their lives better in the future. We can do this by working together, building on children’s and families’ strengths, and developing their capacity to make positive changes for themselves. 

Our Early Help offer comprises three key areas: 

  • Community support 
  • More support 
  • Targeted support 

Community support

  • Opportunities for families to socialise with and learn from each other 

  • Drop in sessions for advice and support 

  • Positive activities and local networks 

  • Signposting and information 

More support

  • A trusted professional who already knows the family helping them recognise their challenges and making a plan to address them.

  • Accessing more specialist support and advice if needed.

  • Regular check-in sessions to see how things are progressing. 

  • Parenting courses and learning programmes. 

Targeted support 

  • A programme of individual support for families or young people, delivered in the home or on-line.

  • Led by a dedicated Early Help or other specialist practitioner. 

  • Focused on problem-solving and creating the conditions for positive change.

  • Drawing in specialist services where required. 

In Peterborough, targeted Local Authority Support can be accessed through one of our Multi Agency Support Group (MASG) Panels. More information on how to access support from MASG can be found in the Parents Guide to Panels document, slides 23 to 27.  

Parenting Support

Helping families understand and manage their children's behaviours

In Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Webster Stratton (The Incredible Years) and a range of Triple P parenting programmes are available to help families better understand and manage their children's behaviours.  These programmes are free to parents and are endorsed by our paediatricians and neurodevelopmental service. 

You can find out more on our Parenting Offer fact sheet.

To assist parents in understanding and responding to their child’s behaviours, Peterborough has introduced the opportunity for parents to engage in Evidenced Based Parenting Programmes. Engagement with the programmes should enable parents/carers, children and young people to learn new skills and gain confidence in their abilities to help manage potentially challenging situations in the home environment.  

In the first instance, families are encouraged to speak to their school, early years setting, children’s centre or health worker to ask about how to access one of these programmes. 

Emotional Health and Well Being Support

Experiencing emotional health and well being issues

Children and young people may experience a range of emotional health and well being issues including low self-esteem, low confidence, self harming and eating disorders. There is a wide range of support available from a range of partners including: 

Also view our Mental Health (Local Offer) web page.

Neurodevelopmental Pathway

What is the Neurodevelopmental Pathway ASD/ADHD?

The pathway is to provide initial support for parents of children and young people with presumed ASD/ADHDit is designed to support parents/carers through the assessment process.

The Peterborough Neurodevelopmental Service CPFT is an integrated multi-agency service for school-age children and young people with diagnosed or presumed neurodevelopmental issues 

The service includes consultant psychiatrists, consultant paediatricians, a clinical nurse special clinical psychologists, nurses, child and family workers and a specialist practitioner all of whom have specialist knowledge and skills in children and young people’s neurodevelopmental needs. This service can help school age children and young people, their families and professionals involved with them through consultation, assessment, diagnosis, interventions, monitoring, review and training. The pathway is designed to ensure that children, young people and families who need a specialist assessment and associated support receive it, in a timely manner. 

The aim of the Neurodevelopmental pathway

The aim of the Pathway is  

To ensure that sufficient information is gathered and provided to support any further assessment/diagnostic process and to ensure that the children and young people most in need are referred.

To provide families with early help and peer support opportunities by providing them with appropriate strategies to help manage children and young people's presenting behaviours via a range of paediatric endorsed evidence-based programmes to suit their individual needs

Two documents to help parents and professionals can be viewed here.



Accessing services available to all children and young people

Disabled children and young people should be able to access services available to all children and young people. Not all children and young people with additional needs will require a specialist service or intervention.

Some children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities may also be able access specialist services through a social care assessment.

Social care assessments are the process by which information about children young people and families is gathered, so that decisions can be made about what support and interventions families may need and be entitled to.

The green drop downs below provide more information about Social Care

Thresholds for children and young people with additional needs

Service criteria

The 0-25 service is composed of the 0-18 children’s service and the 14-25 transition service.  Criteria for access to each of these services have some differences as set out below.

0-25 service for children and young people aged 0-18

The 0-18 service will provide an assessment where the child has:-

  • A presenting need which relates directly to the child’s disability
  • A physical, learning and or neuro-developmental disability or condition diagnosed by a doctor or consultant that is substantial, long lasting and permanent.
  • Complex needs which in order to achieve outcomes appropriate to their potential, as a result of their disability, the child or young person requires total or substantial support, not appropriate to their age, from another person which is not available within their family or wider network
  • Social Care support and safeguarding needs that cannot be met from other services without a specialist assessment

The 0-25 service is informed by the SEND legislation and guidance.  Therefore, children and young people accessing the service will be in education or training. The majority will have an Education Health and Care plan. Transition planning and preparation for adulthood within the 0-25 service will begin at the age of 14.

0-25 service for children and young people aged 14-25

The 14-25 service will provide an assessment where the young person:

  • Has presenting needs which are likely to have a substantial and long term adverse effect on their ability to carry normal day to day activities. As a result of the young person’s needs, the young person is unable to achieve two or more of the outcomes specified within the Care Act Eligibility Criteria (or is likely to if under the age of 18).
  • Has complex needs which in order to achieve outcomes appropriate to their potential, as a result of their disability or impairment the young person requires total or substantial support, not appropriate to their age, from another person which is not available within their family or wider network.
  • Will be in education or training and most likely have a current Education and Health and Care plan.
  • Will require a transitions plan.
  • has social care support and safeguarding needs that cannot be met from other services without a specialist assessment.

Services can be provided directly by the Council or purchased through Direct Payments.

However, these direct payments can only be used to provide short breaks for parents or social opportunities for the young person. The family are responsible for identifying their own person to undertake this work. 

An agreement has to be signed and the monitoring arrangements will ensure that these directly arranged services still meet the identified outcomes from the Education Health and Care plan.

Short Breaks

Opportunities for disabled children to spend time away from parents and carers 

Short Breaks provide opportunities for disabled children to spend time away from parents and carers within quality services.  Short breaks also provide parents and carers with breaks from their caring responsibilities and facilitate quality of life by enabling families to access places and activities together.

Short breaks are defined as:

  • Day time support in the child's home environment or elsewhere.
  • Overnight care and support in child's home environment or elsewhere.
  • Educational or leisure activities for disabled children outside their homes.

More information can be found Short Breaks page.

Support for carers

Considering your needs

The Children and Families Act 2014 gives parent carers and young carers, a right to assessment and to have their needs considered.

Further information can be found by clicking on this link that will take you to the Caring for someone in Peterborough web page.

Transforming Care

Homes, not hospitals

Transforming care is all about improving health and care services so that more people can live in the community, with the right support, and close to home.

Transforming care will mean that fewer people will need to go into hospital for their care. This means that we can close hundreds of hospital beds across England.  To do this we are making sure that services in the community are much better.  You can find out more on our Transforming Care  page.

Social work visits to disabled children

Visitation process

Many services to disabled children within the 0-25 service are managed through a Child In Need (CIN) process which is part of the Children Act 1989. This process requires visits to children every four weeks and a review meeting every six weeks. These are requirements for all children subject to CIN processes within Peterborough City Council.

Many parents of children with disabilities and complex needs have told us that they are unhappy with the increased number of visits and reviews for children subject to the Child in Need process.

In view of this we have developed a new process to manage some children's services and plans under the Chronically Sick and Disabled Person's Act 1970. The main difference means that visits to children can take place a minimum of three monthly with reviews taking place six monthly.

Occupational Therapy in the community

Social Care Occupational Therapists 

If you are a parent or guardian of a child or young person with a physical or learning disability, then occupational therapy in the community can help you.

Occupational therapy staff can give you advice and information on activities of daily living, moving and handling issues, seating at home, housing needs and provide assistive equipment and adaptations to overcome some of the challenges you may experience.

Please download, complete and return the Children's Occupational Therapy Referral Form to the address provided on the application form for an occupational therapy assessment of your child's needs, which will be reviewed. Please note. As this is a word form it doesn't open up on your screen like a pdf.  Instead it downloads to your computer or phones download folder).