Undertaking an early help assessment

The focus of an early help assessment (EHA) is to determine the need for early help and the actions to be taken to improve outcomes from children and families as a whole, based on a holistic view of the needs of the family.

The EHA is not just a form; it's a process which allows practitioners to assess needs, identify service delivery requirements and check that needs are being addressed as part of a structured framework.

You should undertake an EHA if you feel that a child or young person may need additional support (beyond that available from a single agency).

The process

The EHA process involves the assessment of the child or young person's strengths and needs (which must be undertaken through a discussion with the child or young person and/or their family), and the identification of what actions should be taken to address those needs.

Time and care must be taken to ensure the assessment is based on good communication and undertaken with respect for all parties. A 'good' assessment is both a good quality process and a good quality product.

Step 1

When you decide to undertake an EHA you'll need to gain consent from the family and complete the Early Help Assessment form. The EHA should be completed with the family, with input from other professionals working with the family.

  1. Once you have completed the form and it has been signed, you need to scan and email it to earlyhelp@barnsley.gov.uk or take it to your local family centre 
  2. The Early Help Team will confirm if an EHA is already underway or if there's an open social care case and contact you as required

Step 2

Once you have completed the EHA and sent it to the Early Help team you'll need to:

  1. Scan and email the completed TAF action plan to the Early Help team at earlyhelp@barnsley.gov.uk
  2. Scan and email the closure form and outcome documents to the earlyhelp@barnsley.gov.uk
  3. If the action plan has not been completed at 18 weeks you need to scan and email the current EHA and action plan to the earlyhelp@barnsley.gov.uk for review to assess progress, timescales and next steps
  4. Ask your local family centre for help if you don't have access to scanning facilities

What a good quality assessment should entail

A good quality EHA process should be:

  • empowering - engaging the child or young person and/or their parent/carer, and supporting them to participate in, and take responsibility for, their contribution to a collaborative assessment
  • developmental - supporting the child or young person and parent/carer to adopt a self-determining, solution-focused approach to the discussion
  • accessible - for all concerned, including the efficient use of time and access to the means needed to undertake the assessment (for example equipment, interpreter)
  • transparent - the purpose of the assessment is clear, the discussion is open and honest and there is no hidden agenda.

A good quality EHA provides an analysis of the child or young person's strengths and needs. The principles underpinning it should include:

  • validity - the assessment has assessed what it's intended to assess (ie the needs of the child or young person, as opposed to, for example, the needs of someone else, such as the parent)
  • accuracy - the assessment provides an accurate representation of the strengths and needs of the child or young person
  • clarity - the assessment is clear, concise and understandable by all those involved and any practitioners who may get involved or take responsibility for the child or young person's case at a later stage
  • inclusive - the assessment represents the views and opinions of the child or young person and/or family; this is reflected through their language and expressions
  • equal opportunity - the assessment is not biased and gives positive expression to the opinions and experiences of the child or young person and/or their parents/carers without prejudice or discrimination
  • authenticity - the assessment is an accurate, evidence-based record of the discussion
  • professionalism - the assessment is non judgemental and follows organisational codes of practice for recording/writing public documents
  • solution-focused - the assessment promotes an approach that focuses on what the child or young person and their parents/carers want to achieve
  • practical - the assessment identifies the strengths and needs clearly and specifically to allow for identification of appropriate action.