Early Help Assessment (EHA)

The EHA is a simple way to help identify needs of children and families and make a plan to meet those needs. It is a shared tool which can be used by all agencies in Northamptonshire who are delivering early help. Its purpose is to provide a co-ordinated response so no-one misses out on the support they may need.

The EHA can be used to support children and young people between 0–19 years, including unborn babies and can also be used with consent up to the age of 24 where a young person has a learning difficulty or disability.

How to use the Early Help Assessment process

To begin with, you need to identify if the child or young person needs extra support.

An EHA might be needed when:

  • there is a significant change or worrying feature in a child’s appearance, demeanour or behaviour
  • a significant event in a child’s life has occurred, or where there are worries about the parents, carers or home
  • the parent or someone in the wider family or social network is experiencing issues (for example substance abuse/misuse, violence or physical or mental health problems, crime) that might impact on the child
  • a child is regularly missing medical appointments, immunisations etc
  • the child is experiencing other disadvantages for reasons such as race, gender, sexuality, religious belief or disability.
  • a child or family are coming out of social care

You can use Thresholds and Pathways to help you assess whether the child needs extra support.

If you have identified there is a need for extra support, you can move to the next stage of the process

This is when you talk to the child and their family about the EHA. They need to understand and feel comfortable with it and know that its purpose is to help them.

You need to get signed consent from the family before you start the assessment. You should hold onto this signed consent in case you need to evidence it later in the process.

What information do I need?

Key points to remember about your discussion are:

  • Working together - You are working with the child or young person and their family to find solutions. Often they will know better than you
  • Listening to the child or young person - An assessment should never be done without talking to them
  • Voluntary – If the child, young person or family member doesn’t want to take part, you can’t force them
  • Focussed on the positives - This is a chance to talk about what a family does well, not just their challenges.
  • Leads to a plan - An assessment should lead to an action plan that helps a child, young person or family
  • Transparent - The child, young person or family should know what is happening at every point and have given their consent

If at any point you are concerned about the safety or welfare of the child or young person, seek immediate advice at the end of the discussion.

Consent

You should always get consent from the child's parent or carer before starting an EHA. When completing your EHA, please indicate that you have received consent, this is the last section at the back of the EHA. You will need to have at least one of the parent/carer signatures of the children involved  with the name and date the consent was obtained. If you hold original signed consent forms from the parent/carer, its fine for you to type/write all this information into the completed EHA, please remember to include the date consent was obtained and countersign it yourself to confirm that you hold original consent. Unfortunately, we are unable to accept any EHAs without the consent section being fully complete due to Data Protection regulations. If you require any help and support please do not hesitate to contact us. 

What happens if I can't get consent?

Contact the Early Help Support Service to discuss your next steps.

Start an Early Help Assessment

If you have

  • received signed consent and;
  • are happy that an EHA is the best course of action

You can now start completing the Early Help Assessment below.

You can submit the EHA using the online form below.

Submit your EHA

Example Early Help Assessments

If you need help completing the EHA, please use the examples below.

What if I need more help?

The Early Help Practice Manual explains more about the EHA and why they are important.

At this point you have to plan how to meet the needs you have identified in the EHA.

The EHA might identify needs which your agency can’t meet on its own. In this case you will need other professionals or services to help. If you know who to involve, arrange a team around the family (TAF) meeting. If you need help or advice on who to involve, contact the Early Help Support Service.

Team around the family (TAF) meeting

The TAF meeting brings together a range of different professionals to support the family following the EHA. The purpose is to bring people with specialist knowledge together to work out how best to support the family.

The family and child or young person should attend and it is important to engage with them throughout the process.

Remember this is a voluntary process – you can’t force the family to attend or take part.

When arranging your first TAF, you can invite other professionals using the form below:

 

Action plan

You're now ready to develop a plan of action for the family.

The action plan should describe what the family and the professionals in their lives are going to do to get things back on track.

It should clearly identify what is being done to help.

It is important the child or young person helps write the action plan and knows what is happening. There are several tools you can use to produce a ‘child friendly’ action plan, including the My life, my way toolkit.

When you have produced the plan, give a copy to the family and to any professionals involved.

You can use the action plan to regularly review progress with the family to make sure the plan is working.

Submit your action plan

What happens if you need more support?

Contact the Early Help Support Service for advice and guidance, including making a referral for interventions or services.

Menu of services

The menu of services is a guide for all practitioners about services available for children, young people and families.

The next step in the EHA is to regularly review the action plan to see what has changed for a child or family.

You should review the plan regularly (at least every 4-6 weeks) to:

  • ensure the needs you identified have been met and if not why not
  • celebrate the success of any actions carried out
  • identify any new needs that have emerged, and 
  • establish whether the situation has improved or got worse for the child or family

When you review the action plan, there are four possible outcomes:

​Situation at review​Outcome
​Needs have been met​Close plan and EHA
​​Needs not yet metContinue with plan
​Current plan not meeting needs​Re-assess and make new plan
​New needs have emerged​Re-assess and make new plan

You do not need to submit your review form to us. You can just keep this as part of your records.

Menu of services

The menu of services is a guide for all practitioners about services available for children, young people and families.

When the action plan shows that the child, young person's or family’s needs have been met, the EHA can be closed. This is a significant moment for a child or family and their success in making changes should be recognised.

Other reasons to close an EHA

Sometimes an EHA can be closed for other reasons, including:

  • The child or family has been escalated to social care
  • Consent has been withdrawn by the parent or young person
  • The child or young person has left the area

To officially close the EHA, you should complete a closure form.

Submit your closure form

Giving feedback

If you can, encourage the child or young person and their family to complete feedback about the EHA. This will help us to learn what worked for them and what could be improved.

Submitting an Early Help Assessment

Early Help Assessment (EHA) forms must be submitted online. The secure online system will also allow you to upload your EHA action plan and complete the closure form.

Submit your EHA

 If you require any assistance with your Early Help Assessment, you can contact our Early Help Support Service.

Information leaflets

Early help – a guide for parents and carers

This newly designed leaflet will help families, parents and carers understand what early help is, what the early help process is like and how to get early help. It will also be useful for professionals working with families who might benefit from early help. This leaflet replaces the previous Early Help leaflet for parents and carers and all CAF leaflets for families, parents and carers.

Step down – a guide for parents and carers

This newly designed leaflet will help families, parents and carers understand what the step down from social care process is, how it works and what to expect. It will also be useful for social workers and for lead professionals in the community who may work with families who have already stepped down from social care.

Step down from social care to early help – a guide for practitioners

This newly designed leaflet explains the step down from social care to early help process for practitioners. It explains the role of the social worker, what the social worker should expect from practitioners who will provide or coordinate any appropriate ongoing support and what will happen if parents, carers or young people do not consent to continued support.

Training on the Early Help Assessment process

We deliver child safeguarding training in partnership with Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children's Board (NSCB) and Barnado's.

Voice of the child

Support for children and young people is meaningless if it ignores the voice of the child or young person. Their situation cannot be improved without listening to what they have to say and acting on it. There are support kits available to help you to listen to the voice of the child.

Early Help Locality Forums

Northamptonshire has seven Early Help Locality Forums. These partner groups work together to identify and address unmet needs in those areas.

Early help strategy

Northamptonshire has an early help strategy which you can find below:

Families resistant to Early Help intervention

Early help is vital in offering children support which will improve their outcomes and this is needed as soon as problems emerge but sometimes, that support is resisted by families.

For more information on resistant families as well as guidance and strategies to help overcome that resistance please visit the Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children's Board working with resistant families webpage.

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