Early Help is not a service but a way of thinking and working. It is a collaborative approach between services with families that provides support as soon as a need is identified.

 Early Help for your family logo

What is Early Help?

Early Help is focused on prevention, early intervention, and the provision of support for families to prevent or reduce the need for statutory services. There are also examples in which it can prevent further challenges arising, for example if Early Help is provided as part of a support plan when a child or young person has returned home from a period of care or protection under Children’s Social Care. By working with families to identify their strengths, Early Help is focused on building resilience and creating sustainable change that enables families to overcome any future challenges. The Working Together to Safeguard Children 2023 document outlines the key benefit of working in partnership with families to provide Early Help by promoting the welfare of children rather than reactive measures.

Families give consent for Early Help. To help practitioners talk to families about their needs, explain and offer Early Help we have created a leaflet with consent form and a video. The leaflet is immediately below and the video at the bottom of this page.

Parent Carer Leaflet Early Help
Download (4.14MB - PDF)

Right support at the right time cartoon

Early Help in Doncaster 

Early Help in Doncaster is an interconnected system of services, tools and resources working at level 2 targeted and level 3 complex thresholds. Every Child that needs Early Help has a Lead Practitioner who will undertake a holistic and whole family Early Help Assessment in partnership with the child, their family, and other services the family know; this will inform their whole family action plan. The families Lead Practitioner will work closely with the family and other organisations to provide and coordinator help. Team Around the Family review meetings are held around every 6 weeks to ensure progress is being made and the child and family are happy with the help they are receiving. 

Our 9 Commitments:

  • Never do nothing
  • Build stronger relationships
  • Always build on strengths
  • Work with families for as long as it takes
  • Empower families and communities
  • Be transparent
  • Be flexible
  • Work together
  • Ensure accountability at every level

We also provide support to families at level 1 universal, known as Local Help through our Your Family Locality Triage's. Your Family Locality Triage's provide advice and guidance or additional help from services in the community such as health, St Leger Homes, Police and many more who all work together on issues in your community without the need for assessment or formal pathways.


Early Help Outcomes Framework -Outcomes Want to Achieve 

We want every child in Doncaster to reach their full potential, be safe, healthy and happy. To achieve this we follow our Early Help Outcomes Framework:

The 10 headline outcomes are:

Family Outcomes Framework diagram

  • Getting a good education
  • Good early years development
  • Improved mental and physical health
  • Promoting recovery and reducing harm from substance use
  • Improved family relationships
  • Children safe from abuse and exploitation
  • Crime prevention and tackling crime
  • Safe from domestic abuse
  • Secure housing
  • Financial stability

Think Family -Our Whole Family Approach to Understanding and Meeting Needs

We want Doncaster to have thriving children, young people and families. To achieve this a ‘think family’ approach to our Early Help and safeguarding work is essential. We know that some families at times have difficulties in their lives, and we recognise that to support families, we need to work with, and understand, all members of the family. The ‘Whole Family Approach’ provides children and adults with the tools they need to overcome challenges. Some services are already working within a ‘Whole Family Approach’ and we want to ensure that this is embedded in all services and agencies across Doncaster. The diagram below outlines the different elements of the approach. 

Whole Family Approach diagram

Continuum of Need

In Doncaster we have recently introduced a new continuum of need, shown below for reference, to ensure consistent understanding of needs across the system and the level of support required by children, young people, and families. Multi Agency Threshold Training is provided by Doncaster Safeguarding Children's Partnership via BuyDoncaster website: https://buy.doncaster.gov.uk/Training

The Continuum of Need diagram

 Doncaster Safeguarding Children's Partnership website has lots of useful information and documents for Practitioners including the Early Help Strategy and Multi-Agency Threshold of Need document and Levels of Need: https://dscp.org.uk/professionals and a video to explain this: https://youtu.be/mCq_cF2Sgf4

  Multi-Agency Threshold Document Cover

Practitioner Support: 

Some practitioners undertake the Lead Practitioner role as a regular part of their day-to-day functions; others practitioners occasionally or rarely do this.  We provide a range of support to develop the skills, knowledge and confidence to be an effective lead practitioner, whatever your role. We also provide information and guidance about Early Help in Doncaster useful for practitioners who are part of Teams Around the Family; or those in contact with children and families. 

We have created two guides to help practitioners understand what early hep is and how to provide this well. 

The Early Help Practice Guide explain in a clear way what a Lead Practitioner does, the assess, plan, do, review process, how to undertake an Early Help Assessment and lead a Team Around the Family meeting.

Early Help Practitioner Guide
Download (10MB - PDF)

 The Early Help Practice Framework explains the practice approaches used in Doncaster, the way we work with children and families, the tools and resources we use, and why, in straightforward way.  We provide information about training and links to more information. 

Early Help Practice Framework
Download (8.32MB - PDF)

Early Help Coordinators

Early Help Coordinators are highly experienced practitioners, their role is to provide support and guidance with any aspect of Early Help. There are two Early Help Coordinators in each of the four locality areas, another within each Your Family Locality Triage; and two within Doncaster Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).

• Case advice
• Thresholds case mapping and step up support
• Case management, case recording and time frames
• Case audits • Training delivery
• Duty line and email
• Screening within MASH and Your Family Locality Triage

Early Help Coordinator Duty phone and email lines: 

Telephone: 01302 736250

Email: earlyhelpcoordinator@doncaster.gov.uk 


We provide lots of training to help practitioners understand what Early Help is, their roles and responsibilities; how to provide effective Early Help. Training is booked via BuyDoncaster: https://buy.doncaster.gov.uk/Training
  • Early Help in Doncaster an introduction
  • Being a Lead Practitioner and working with Families
  • Managing Engagement
  • Early Help Outcomes Framework
  • Early Help and Neglect
  • Supervision for Early Help
  • Reducing Parental Conflict
  • Parenting Cooperatively for Separated Parents
  • Outcome Star
  • Parent Carer Needs Assessment
  • Neurological Pathway

We work closely with partners to support delivery of:

• Multi Agency Threshold of Needs
• Graded Care Profile 2 (NSPCC)

Further information

Information for families about Early help is available on our web site: Early help what it is in Doncaster

Families Information Service provides information, advice and guidance for parents, carers, practitioners, children and young people on a wide range of services and activities/events available in Doncaster and beyond: https://www.doncaster.gov.uk/services/schools/families-information-service-fis

Information and support for adults, young people and children to live happy, healthy lives, and discover what is available in your local communities via the Your Life website: www.yourlifedoncaster.co.uk

More information about Early Help and related areas is available via Doncaster Children's Safeguarding Partnership (DCSP) website: https://dscp.org.uk/
  • Early Help
  • Neglect
  • Multi Agency Audits
  • Policies and Procedures
  • Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews

Worried About A Child?

If you are worried about a child because they are at risk of harm and wish to speak to someone, you can contact us by calling 01302 737777 in the evening or at weekends call 01302 796000. If this concern is not deemed to be immediate you will be directed to fill in the form.

One Form 4 responses

If you are a professional and have a concern about a child or have consent to make a Local or  Early Help enquiry please complete the online form: 

Local Help: Low level support, quick intervention linking the family into local services & support when everyday issues become difficult;  for example help with benefits advice, financial issues, low level housing issues and much more.

Early help: If you feel you and your family require some extra support, then support is available via Early Help. This is a way of accessing a range of support and services to prevent problems from becoming bigger.  If you, your child/children and your family need extra support, for example, around health,  development/ behaviour,  education,  parenting,  relationships, conflict and much more.

Social Care: If you are worried about a child or believe a child to be at risk of any kind of harm please select social care. Social services have a statutory obligation to safeguard and promote the welfare of vulnerable children and can provide a wide range of services to children and their parents, usually within the own home environment and co-ordinated by a social worker.

CAMHS: Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are services that support young people with their mental health. If you believe a child or young person is struggling with their mental health please consider a CAHMS referral.

 Always call 999 if someone is in immediate danger.

Last updated: 27 February 2024 22:38:12

Did you find this page helpful?