Support and Advice for Families

About Early Help

Baby on a play mat

Early help is provided to children, young people and families who are struggling and feel in need of some additional support and to those who research tells us are at a higher than average risk of experiencing problems.

The aim of early help services is to ideally prevent but otherwise to resolve any issues before they become more serious and require specialist support.

The Isle of Wight Children and Young People’s Strategic partnership recognises that the best outcomes are achieved when a combination of services work together to ensure that the whole family are able to work towards better life chances of their children.

Who early help is available to

One of our main sources of local data is the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) that is carried out every year in partnership with health services.  This tells us about the current needs of children, young people and families on the island and anticipates future need.  Most crucially it identifies groups whose needs are not being met and who are experiencing poor outcomes.  This information informs the design and focus of our services and our commissioning priorities.

Concerns about how well a child or young person is progressing may be raised by a professional, parent/carer or the child/young person themselves.

A Early Help Assessment (EHA) is then used to identify their needs. EHA is a standardised shared assessment and planning framework for use across all children’s services and all local areas in England.  At the centre of the development of the EHA is the principle that it is child/young person centred, and can be shared across agencies and between professionals as appropriate, and with the family/young person’s permission.

The use of EHA facilitates early identification of needs, leading to co-ordinated provision of services, involving a lead professional, and sharing information to avoid duplication of assessments.

Early help support provided

The Isle of Wight Council together with schools and colleges and partners in health, crime, community safety and the voluntary sector provide a wide range of early help for children young people and their families.

Our early help strategy provides information on programmes that have been split into four age related themes as follows;

1. The best start in life (for families with children aged 0-5)

We recognise, as emphasised in a number of recent national reviews, that a child’s experience in the foundation years from 0-5 are crucial in determining a child’s long term developmental outcomes.

Our early help provision for this age group includes:

  • A range of provision at our children’s centres, focused on the most vulnerable families.
  • A health visiting service, with a focus on supporting vulnerable parents.
  • An early education programme in which two year old children from low income families experiencing difficulties can be referred for 10 hours free early education per week.
  • An early years’ special educational needs service, providing specialist support for individual children (0-5) with SEND working alongside families, settings and other agencies to ensure and promote development of skills
  • An early year’s speech, language and communication service for children, parents and early years settings.

2. Growing up well (for families with children aged 5-11)

The focus of our early help provision at primary school age acknowledges the importance of the family and community as well as the school in providing the right support and stimulation to enable a child to thrive.

Our early help provision for this age group includes:

  • An education welfare service to improve school attendance.
  • A behaviour support service.
  • A family and parenting support service, delivering intensive one to one. support, family outreach and evidence based parenting programmes now available from children's centres for 0-19 years.
  • A child health service-delivered through the school family nursing service.

3. Readiness for adult life (for families with young people aged 11-19)

Positive parenting continues to be a focus for children of secondary school age as does ensuring that young people attend school. We know that truancy from school impacts significantly on a young person’s educational attainment and increases risk of ill health in adulthood. Our focus at this age is also on positive activity to reduce the risk of anti-social behaviour and involvement in criminal activity.

Our provision for this age group includes:

  • An education welfare service to improve school attendance.
  • A behaviour support service.
  • Targeted youth support for vulnerable groups and homeless young people.
  • Targeted careers support through the education participation team.
  • A range of provision through the youth offer, focused on the most vulnerable young people.
  • A community Child and Adolescent Community Mental Health Service (Community CAMHS).

4. Supporting parents and families (across the age range)

We provide a range of provision to support families with varying needs and levels of support for 0-19 years.

These include:

  • Family support, through children’s centres and commissioned provider.  
  • Evidence based parenting programmes; Solihull Approach, Incredible Years, Triple P and Strengthening Families.
  • An educational psychology service.
  • Community child and adolescent mental health support.
  • Short breaks for disabled children.
  • Strengthening families programme and European Social Fund (ESF) ‘Progress!’ programme now delivered through children's centres.

Access to early help services

Many of these services are available in the community, through schools,health services and voluntary organisations.  You can look at the links in this section of the website to find out contact details of the organisations.

As of 1 April 2015 the Isle of Wight Council has commissioned Barnardos to be the provider of integrated early help services for 0-19 years.

Access to Strengthening Families Programme

Strengthening Families Programme (SFP) is the Isle of Wight’s response to the national 'Troubled Families' initiative.  It is a key component of the Early Help offer of services designed to reduce or prevent specific problems from getting worse and becoming deep seated or entrenched.

The programme covers the whole Island and is now delivered by the charity called Barnardo’s.  It focuses on families who are currently experiencing complex difficulties. For more information about the Strengthening Families Programme please click here.

If you are concerned about a child or you need information about children’s services, please get in touch by using the 'Contacts' tab above.