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Part of: Safeguarding Children and Young People

Related to: Children and Young People, Children in Need, Socio-economic Inequality, Education, Ill Health and Disability, Mental Health and Illness, Carers, Child Poverty, Alcohol, Childcare, Domestic Abuse, Wellbeing, House Prices and Tenure, Learning Disabilities, Sensory Impairments, Substance Misuse, Teenage Conceptions, Youth Offending, Child Health and Wellbeing Survey , Toxic/Complex Trio and Parental Needs

Key Facts:

  • Between the financial years 2011-2012 and 2016-2017 Bath and North East Somerset Council received Early Help Common Assessment Framework (CAF) Assessments for 2,157 children and young people aged 0-19 years (25 for those with special educational needs or disabilities).
  • By far the highest proportion of children who have had Early Help CAF Assessments received by B&NES Council were in the youngest age group, 0-4 years.
  • During the financial year 2016-2017, the most prevalent identified needs/issues of the children and young people with Early Help CAFs were: housing, behaviour at home, strained family relationships, and speech and language needs. 

Most children and young people have a number of basic additional needs that can be supported through a range of universal services. These services include education, early years, health, housing, youth services, leisure facilities, local community and faith groups, as well as services provided by voluntary organisations. The role of parents as experts on their children is also recognised in Bath and North East Somerset and reinforced by a range of parenting support. 

It is crucial, particularly through contact with universal services, that action is taken to identify any problems early and that additional support is put in place rather than reacting to the symptoms of problems later when much more support may be required and better outcomes are harder to achieve. 

Early Help relies upon agencies/organisations working with parents and children to identify those children and families that would benefit from early help by undertaking a comprehensive assessment of the need for early help.  It then seeks to provide help to address these needs and to improve outcomes.1 

 

Early Help Common Assessment Framework (CAF) 2 - is a form of Early Help Assessment and is one of a number of tools and processes which help practitioners in Bath and North East Somerset to assess and address the needs of a child or young person at the earliest stage (0 – 19 years). It is a voluntary assessment which can be undertaken by any member of the children’s workforce, including volunteers, church groups, and health professionals.  

Education, health and other agencies have good quality tools that assess children’s needs in their areas of expertise. However, the aim of CAF is to help identify at the earliest opportunity a child or young person's additional or multiple needs which cannot be met by a single agency and to provide timely and co-ordinated multi-agency support to meet those needs.

A (CAF) can only be undertaken with the informed and explicit written consent from the child/young person and/or their parents/carers.

Team around the Child (TAC) 3 - Where a multi-agency response is required a Team around the Child (TAC) is formed. This brings together practitioners from across different services to co-ordinate and deliver an integrated package of solution-focused support to meet the needs identified during the Early Help Assessment (CAF) process. The child or young person and parents/carers should be included as part of a TAC.

Different levels of need 4

Level 1 – Needs being met by the everyday work of universal settings (e.g – schools and GPs) - these provide services for all children and young people in their day-to-day work. In the majority of cases, a child or young person’s needs are addressed this way.

Level 2 - Children and young people who have an additional need - At this level, these needs can be met by a single agency.  However, if more complex or multiple needs are emerging, then a multi-agency Common Assessment should be carried out.

Level 3 - High or complex needs - Children or young people who have high or multiple needs, which require a co-ordinated response from two or more agencies. Where a child or young person has multiple needs the Common Assessment (CAF) should be offered to the family/young person. This will enable professionals to:

  • contribute information from their areas of expertise that will improve support to the child
  • coordinate work with the family and where appropriate share information
  • jointly consider a child or young person’s strengths and needs
  • ensure there is clarity of who is taking the lead professional role

Level 4 - Acute or complex needs leading to eligibility for statutory assessment - Children and young people who have been identified with acute or complex needs at level 4 are eligible to statutory assessment e.g from Children’s Social Care or specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health services. Child Protection Procedures are put in place where there is risk of harm and specialist intervention is required.

Children can move across the assessment levels at different times in their lives, or during agencies’ contact with them. They move up through the levels only when lower levels of support are not adequate for them but move back down as soon as their needs can be met by services at the lower level.

Information about organisations and events in Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire that support families on a range of issues such as childcare, parenting, benefits and school, can be found on the 

Bathnes 1 Big Database.

What does the data say?

Bath and North East Somerset Early Help Common Assessment Framework 5 

During the period between the financial years 2011/12 and 2016/17 Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES) Council received Early Help Common Assessment Framework (CAF) Assessments for 2,127 children and young people. 

Figure 1: Early Help CAF Assessments received by Bath and North East Somerset Council – financial years 2011/12 -2016/17 6 

During the period between the financial years 20011/12 to 2016 – 2017 the greatest proportion of CAFs that B&NES Council received came from the Health Services. This was influenced by a requirement within Early Years for requests for nursery funding prior to age 3 based on needs, to be accompanied by a Common Assessment.

In 2012/13, Health Visitors completed 145 assessments, between 2013/14, 137 were completed, between 2014/15, 143 were completed, with a further 95 in both 2015/16 and 2016/17.

Overall, the second greatest number came from schools, with a total of 319 (14.8% of all assessments in this period). Only one year, 2012/13 saw midwifery complete a higher number than schools with 55 completed in this financial year.

There has not been a great deal of change in terms of the types of Assessor Agencies completing CAF Assessments in Bath and North East Somerset as the whole workforce has been supported to implement this process. Those from schools and Health Services made up the greatest proportion of all the CAFs each of these financial years during this period.

Gender 7 

With the only exception of the financial year 2011/12 (39% male and 52% female, 9% unknown), the proportion of male children with CAFs has been slightly greater than female children for each of the financial years during the 7 year period between 2007/08 – 2013/14 (males ranging from 54% - 48% and females 46%-41%). During this period there was no significant change in the difference between the proportion of males and females. However, the % of children where the gender was unknown/not recorded increased slightly from 2% in 2007/08 – 2009/10 to 9-10% in 2011/12 -2013/14 in line with increased assessments for unborn babies from midwifery.

In recent years, 2015-2016 and 2016-2017, this trend has continued with between 52% and 60% of males and between 32% and 37% of girls, with some additional unborn babies whose gender was not known at the time of assessment completion.

 

Ethnicity 8 

Between 2012/13 and 2016/17, over 80% of children and young people were identified as White British, although this dropped in the period 2014-2017 from 89% to between 80% and 82%. Although this data is coming more in line with new birth data, it suggest that children from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds are still over-represented.

  • 2012-2013 89% white British
  • 2013-2014 87% White British
  • 2014-2015 80% White British
  • 2015-2016 83% White British
  • 2016-2017 82% White British

The proportion of children and young people with Early Help CAF Assessments since 2012 recorded as BME does not vary greatly, remaining between 11-18%, with no clear trend. Similarly, there is no clear trend in the proportion of children and young people recorded as White British.

 

Disability 9 

In terms of the disabilities of the children and young people who had Early Help CAF Assessments received by B&NES Council between the financial years 2012/2013 to 2016/2017, on the whole it has only been recorded whether they have a disability or not, not what type of disability.  Furthermore, disability is used in its broadest context to include physical disabilities, sensory impairments, learning disabilities, special educational needs and mental health and behaviour issues, and is self-defined.

Between 2012/13 and 2016/17 a total of 132 children/young people were defined as having a disability at this stage of early support, no more than 39 in any one year.

It is important to treat these figures with some caution as the interpretation of disability is likely to vary with different assessors, and thus some may include educational needs and mental health issues as a disability, while others may not.

 

Key presenting needs 10

The Integrated Working Team was established in its present form in December 2012.  It has therefore been possible to report on the key presenting needs from assessments for the first time for the financial year 2013-2014 and on-going into 2016 and 2017.

It is recognised that Early Help Assessments (CAF) are narrative documents and there is no automated solution for reporting on the reasons for initiating an early help assessment. Therefore, the Integrated Working Team must make a judgment on which needs are predominant.  However, within the team, there is an on-going system of moderation and discussion to ensure some consistency between the three staff identifying needs from the assessments.

Key themes that emerge are:

 

  • Housing - re-location owing to over-crowding or anti-social behaviour, or maintenance needs
  • Children’s behaviour at home - often linked to a need for parenting support
  • Strained family relationships
  • Poor parental mental health - impacting on children and young people. Parental mental health is often unacknowledged by parents. 
  • Speech and language delay – this is likely to feature given the relationship of the common assessment to early years funding applications.

It is probable that housing appeared as the greatest need as it is a tangible one. However, housing needs are always combined with other needs such as the need for parenting support or wider family tensions impacting on children and young people.

The key needs of emotional support, parental capacity/support, domestic abuse (past or present), and challenging behaviour at school all followed closely as identified needs which have led to the initiation of a common assessment.  Behaviour at school can be an indicator of wider, attendant needs.