Vulnerable children: Confusion over early help policy is hampering intervention

A lack of clear definitions of what constitutes early help and huge variation in thresholds for intervention mean that the huge potential of this policy is not yet being realised.

There is convincing evidence that the policy of early help “improves the lives of children and families, preventing unnecessary distress and harm”, researchers from the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) and University of Cambridge have found.

Early help is when social and other services focus on intervention before a challenge facing a family escalates to the point where statutory services are required.

An on-going five-year research project – entitled Living Assessments – is being funded by the Wellcome Trust and carried out by the NCB and the universities of Cambridge and Kent to “understand the experiences and impact of health and social care assessments on children and families”.

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