Early Help refers both to help in the critical early years of a child’s life, when the fundamental building blocks of future development are laid, but also help throughout a child’s, young person’s and family’s life to respond, as soon as possible, when difficulties emerge in order to prevent problems from becoming entrenched or escalating.
The Early Help Strategy is a ‘starting point’ for all of Liverpool strategic partners, including voluntary partners, to consider how Early Help, delivered in partnership with children, young people and families, can improve life chances particularly for families experiencing complex and multiple needs. The aim is for partners to make a commitment to work differently. This means adopting a whole systems approach to service redesign to ensure families receive Early Help as soon as difficulties emerge.
Section 12(2) of the Childcare Act 2006 states that Local Authorities must provide to parents or prospective parents information about - the provision of childcare in the area of the local authority and other services, facilities or publications which may be of benefit to parents / prospective parents and carers, children or young people.
The Early Help Directory is available on-line for families and practitioners. http://ehd.liverpool.gov.uk. The directory contains information on a variety of organisations and services (including some national services), that will provide support to families. Each service / organisation is ‘tagged’ against Liverpool’s Levels of Need Framework so that it is easy to find the most appropriate support, and referral routes to each service will be outlined.
SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS
As part of the SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disability) reforms of 2014, Local Authorities must publish a Local Offer, setting out in one place information about provision they expect to be available across education, health and social care for children and young people in their area who have SEN or a are disabled, including those that do not have Education, Health and Care plans. In setting out what they ‘expect to be available’, Local Authorities should include provision which they believe will actually be available.
The Early Help Directory is Liverpool’s way of delivering this requirement.
Providers of services, activities or events can register with the website which gives them an account that enables them to be listed within the Early Help Directory. They are also able to update their listing. Use of the directory is monitored and reported to help the Authority to identify unmet need for services and can help information planning of services that customers are looking for. Any updates / amendments made to service pages and any feedback received via the Rate and Review tool are subject to moderation. No information becomes live on the public site without being checked and approved.
In order to ensure the directory is as accessible as possible to users, a software programme ‘Browse Aloud’ has been installed that allows text size and colour to be changed by the user, and sections can be highlighted for translation into other languages and ‘read aloud’ highlighted text in the required language. Screen masks can also be used to focus in on the text only for users who may have ADHD etc.