Early help is about supporting families who are struggling with the day-to-day challenges they are facing. This could be when first becoming a parent or when a parent first faces a challenge that they feel they need help to manage, regardless of the age of their children, (pre-school, school age or leaving school). Early help services are provided by the council and by our key partners too; schools, health services, voluntary sector agencies. Early help works best when families are able to share their worries and ambitions with a key worker who can support them by bringing the right agencies together around the family completing an assessment for clarity and pulling together a plan with goals which details tasks to be competed, by whom, by when, and what ‘success’ looks like. The council promotes the use of an early help assessment, either agency specific or via the council.
To support families and professionals to access the right support, at the right time, from the most suitable agency, the council has introduced a new front door, called the Children and Families Hub.
The Children and Families Hub is a three-phased project. Phase 1 started in March 2023 when we changed the route for referrals to the Bromley Children Project, which now go via the Children and Families Hub. Over the next two phases we will introduce an online portal to improve direct access for families and professionals, and in Phase 3, our ambition is to add other services, teams, and partner agencies referral routes to the Children and Families Hub.
What do we offer?
We offer a range of services within one team, as well as linking with other agencies such as Health Visitors, which makes it easier for families to be supported by the right people as early as possible. In Bromley, our early help is known as Early Intervention and Family Support (EIFS) services and includes:
- Bromley Children Project – targeted one-2-one family support
- Parenting offer – a wide range of free courses and seminars, online and face to face, designed to support every parent and carer
- Children and Family Centres - a wide range of services, activities, and support for families
- Information advice and support service - supporting young people, and parents/carers of children and young people, with disabilities and special educational needs to access the right support packages and an Education Health and Care (EHC) Plan
- Social Communication and ASD family support coordinator
- Reducing parental conflict
We offer a range of early help to build confidence and resilience within families - to support them to tackle all kinds of problems and make the changes they need to make. Our aim is to offer the right help to as many children and families as possible at the earliest opportunity; we will support families to face challenges and make changes so that they feel more positive, in control of their situation, and have a happier family life. Families tell us that the support received from our services helped to prevent problems escalating and becoming harder to manage. Many families tell us that they find this support invaluable as it helps them to keep their children safe and healthy, and reduces the likelihood of being referred to children’s social care due to increased risk and concern.
Community based services
Our teams work in three localities spread across Bromley, each locality has two of our six Children and Family Centres and because we are based in the community we have a good knowledge of the local area and can make better connections with the families we support. By creating joined-up support packages we can help families more effectively offering expert advice and support on issues including:
- Domestic abuse
- Help with mental and physical health concerns
- School related problems - such as attendance
Supporting change and providing tools to challenge risky behaviour
As part of our targeted and light touch support models, because we know parenting can be tough, we challenge behaviours that can place children at risk, and where families tell us they are struggling to protect their children from harm or exploitation we offer additional support. We support parents to develop strategies and their own toolkit to face their existing and emerging parenting challenges, through 1-2-1 support, modelling key worker and team around the family approaches, as well as both online and face-to-face parenting seminars and courses. To protect children, where risks meet the threshold, we will refer families up to Children’s Social Care, but our ambition is to prevent this. To identify the problems that children, young people and families are facing, we listen to the family, and ask:
- What is working well?
- What are we worried about?
- What needs to happen now?
We will support families, children, young people and parents/carers, to develop resilience and confidence to manage the challenges they are facing and by providing the tools to change what needs to change and bounce back when they stumble. Families tell us this support has helped to prevent problems escalating and becoming harder to manage. Many families find this support invaluable as it helps them to keep their children safe and healthy and reduces the likelihood of being referred to children’s social care due to increased risk and concern.