Council approves plans to transform Early Help offer

The decision was approved by Westmorland and Furness Council’s Cabinet on Tuesday with the aim to establish the new service by March 2025 – when the contracts with providers who currently deliver the service come to an end.

‘Early help’ is a system of support which aims to support children and families as soon as problems emerge. Some early help support is described as ‘targeted early help’ and is provided to children and families who are identified as having multiple or complex needs.

The council plans to join their Early Help service up with their newly established Family Hub offer and provide additional support to local schools who deal with approximately 80% of all Early Help assessments themselves. Each school will be allocated a named Early Help Officer along with access to training and advice.

According to the council’s report, developing an Early Help Service in the council will allow them to develop Early Help services further in the time leading up to March 2025 and beyond, while getting the most out of available resources.

Milorad Vasic, Director of Children’s Services at Westmorland and Furness Council, said: “When we, as a new council, wrote our first council plan last year – we identified reviewing our Early Help offer as one of our top priorities.

“Since then, we’ve engaged with young people, families, staff, and providers and concluded that bringing the service in-house is the best option. We’ll be able to strengthen our Early help offer, continue to work with the voluntary sector and introduce a programme of long-term change that will deliver better outcomes for families.

“Our aim is to expand and develop our Family Hub offer and align this with our Early Help services so that families can access all the services, support, and advice they need in one place. We’re also committed to providing well-needed additional support to schools and other education providers who manage most of the Early Help Assessments in our area.

“Our plans will support our aim to improve outcomes for young children and their families and reduce inequality between those with the greatest need and their peers.”

To read the council’s cabinet report on their plans for a new in-house Early Help service, visit the council website.

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