This report provided details of the Medway Early Help
Strategy 2021 – 2024, which set out Medway’s early help
offer to support potentially vulnerable children, young
people and their families as soon as a
problem started to emerge. The purpose
of early help was to prevent issues and problems from escalating by
building resilience and this would be achieved through prompt and
targeted interventions to families by those who know them
best. The report also stated that the Strategy would reflect
a partnership approach to deliver effective early help to children
and families. The partnership worked
together at all levels to ensure that the approach and services
would best support children and families in Medway.
This report was considered by the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 9 June 2021 and the Health and Wellbeing Board on 17 June and their comments were set out in sections 7 and 8 of the report respectively.
A Diversity Impact Assessment had been undertaken on the Strategy, details of which were set out in Appendix 3 to the report.
The Cabinet noted the comments of the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the Health and Wellbeing Board, as set out in sections 7 and 8 of the report.
The Cabinet approved the Medway Early Help Strategy, as set out at Appendix 1 to the report.
The purpose of early help is to prevent issues and problems from escalating by building resilience, through prompt and targeted interventions to families by those who know them best. It is a shared responsibility and approving the strategy will help to embed a cultural change across the partnership to ensure that early help is everyone’s responsibility; providing a single vision, joint priorities and services which are delivered in harmony to ensure the best possible outcomes.
The strategy sets out Medway’s early help offer and it covers a period of three years; with the current proposal to hold a launch event in July 2021 and facilitate a 6-month workshop to assess the impact of the strategy and to identify if the priorities are being driven, in December 2021. The Early Help Partnership Board will be responsible for evidencing the quality, effectiveness, and impact of the strategy.
The Head of First Response and Targeted Services introduced the draft Medway Early Help Strategy which set out Medway’s early help offer and covered a period of three years.
Members then raised a number of questions and comments which included:
· Lead professionals – in response to a question about how to ensure a family is designated with the right lead professional, it was explained that the aspiration was for all agencies to use the same information system to make the sharing of information seamless and the discussion around who the appropriate lead professional easier.
· Sharing of data – officers confirmed they would share the strategy dashboard data with the committee.
· Proactive support – comments were made about whether the early help offer could be highlighted to families who were vulnerable, for example, where a child has complex needs. Officers confirmed that early help support needed to be consensual and there was no statutory right to intervene unless a serious safeguarding concern arose. It was therefore key to ensure that the early help offer was well advertised across the partnership.
· Public awareness – in response to a question about how the Council was to ensure parents and carers knew how to access support, officers confirmed that the single point of access (SPA) information was widely advertised across the Council website, social media, libraries, family hubs, schools, Citizens Advice Bureau and many other partner organisations.
The Committee recommended the Medway Early Help Strategy, as attached at Appendix 1 to the report, to the Cabinet for approval.