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Families First & Continuum of Needs

All practitioners working with, and on behalf of, children and families need to take responsibility for ensuring everything possible is done to prevent the unnecessary escalation of issues or problems by seeking early intervention. The 'Continuum of Need’ document aims to provide guidance about thresholds to help ensure that the right response is given, by the right services, at the right time.

Families First Interactive Process Map

If you are aware of a family that lives in Hertfordshire and needs support, this toolkit enables you to make sure they receive the right kind of help. It asks a few simple questions about the family’s needs, existing support and your agency’s ability to engage with the family. It takes only a few minutes, and by the end of it you’ll know the support the family requires and who is best to deliver it.

Practitioners Area

families firstThe practitioners area supports the Families First vision for partner agencies to work together, make the best use of shared resources and continually grow a resource of quality material for the wider workforce
This library of information, forms and templates and examples of best practice for professionals is being developed with contributions by all partners. See:

Requests for support

Families First Hub/ Triage

This is a central team which processes all the referrals that are not child protection but are likely to need early help. They may give advice and information to the referrer and signpost to an organisation that can support the family. They'll contact parents to gain consent to share information and take cases to the local Triage Panels. A member of the team will also contact other agencies such schools, GPs, health, children’s centres etc. for information. Families First Triage Panels are currently held weekly. These multi- agency panels are chaired by a Triage Manager who is a qualified Social Worker. Health Visitors, children’s centres, Senior Families First Coordinators, Targeted Youth Support, Intensive Family Support, YC Herts and Police sit on the panel and share information about the family and collaboratively agree who should be the key worker and lead the FFA. This is for families who require a targeted or intensive level of support which requires a multi-agency team around the family.

Request for support form available at:

Action and Impact

Families First Action and Impact (A&I) Meetings are an integral part of Families First. They provide a multi-agency forum to address cases which are not progressing (or are considered complex or ‘stuck’) where a professional is concerned that risks have escalated and it may have met the threshold for child protection and / or require discussion where:

  • there is an open Families First Assessment which is not achieving the desired progress towards agreed outcomes
  • a Graded Care Profile has been completed in cases where neglect has been identified
  • the most appropriate Families First Keyworker needs to be established to move forward
  • the family are being worked within a multi-agency network, without an Families First Assessment; the family are not progressing and involved agencies are unable to identify the next steps
  • the family are being stepped down from a Safeguarding Team.

The aim of these meetings is to improve outcomes for those children and families, within Hertfordshire, who require support below the statutory level of intervention. They focus on those with targeted and intensive support needs who are not progressing with their current support plan.

Contact the A&I team directly to discuss whether the case meets criteria /alternatively complete Partner Case Presentation Document available at:

Family Group Conference

Family Group Conferences are a way of making decisions about the care of children by involving the extended family and friends in the planning process. Their aim is to empower the family rather than have professionals impose decisions. The main decision makers at an FGC are the family who get together with their family, friends and with the young person/child to talk, make a plan and improve their home situation. Further information available at:

Contact the FGC team directly to discuss whether the case meets criteria - Ben Carr 01992 588346 or email

Targeted Youth Support Service
Intensive Family Support Team

Referrals for Specific Safeguarding Issues

Child Sexual Exploitation

Please see Section 6.6 of the HSCB Procedures Manual

Hertfordshire Police CSE Reporting Form

Refer using this form should a non-urgent response be required or to submit information about Child Sexual Exploitation. HALO will acknowledge receipt of the referral via e-mail.

This form should be used to refer children and young persons and/or suspects and perpetrators. This form should also be used in cases where no victim is known but a person is exhibiting CSE perpetrator behaviours.

A separate referral must be completed for each child who is vulnerable to, or a victim of, Child Sexual Exploitation.

If there is no immediate risk to life or property but a police response is required as soon as practicable due to the seriousness of the incident and/or potential loss of evidence, dial 101.

If there is an immediate danger to life, risk of injury or crime being committed please dial 999.

Hertfordshire Police CSE Reporting Form
Domestic Abuse and Violence

Please see Section 4.6 of the HSCB Procedures Manual

  • Schools can refer direct to MARAC. Follow MARAC education toolkit at: Domestic Abuse
  • Consider whether a referral to Police/Children’s Services is also required.
Anti-radicalisation PREVENT

Section 6.25 HSCB Procedures Manual

  • Where risks of vulnerability to being drawn into terrorism are suspected or confirmed, practitioners should make a referral to the PREVENT team at, using the referral form available in section 6.25.
  • If there is an immediate risk, ring the police (999/101).
  • A referral to Children’s Services : Safeguarding and Specialist Services may also be necessary if it is considered that the child is in need of protection
Emotional wellbeing

Section 6.20 HSCB Procedures Manual-Self Harm and Suicidal Behaviour

  • Step2 - Early Intervention 0-19 Mental Health Service 01438 730570
  • Referrals to Single Point of Access on 0300 777 0707 (form available under the professionals area at Healthy Young Minds in Herts )
  • Emergency - always take the child or young person (with parental consent) or ask the parents to take the child or young person to Accident and Emergency.
  • A referral to Children’s Services : Safeguarding and Specialist Services may also be necessary if it is considered that the child is in need of protection

Young Carers' Referral

Section 96(12) of the Children and Families Act requires local authorities to take reasonable steps to identify the extent to which there are young carers within their area who have needs for support.

Who is a young carer?

A young carer is defined in the Children and Families Act 2014 as ‘a person under 18 who provides or intends to provide care for another person (of any age, except where that care is provided for payment, under or by virtue of a contract, or as voluntary work).' (Children and Families Act 2014 Section 96). This includes provision of practical support, personal care and/or emotional support. This relates to care for any family member who is physically or mentally ill, frail elderly, disabled or misuses alcohol or substances.

The term ‘young carer’ does not apply to everyday and occasional help around the home that may often be expected of or given by children in families and is part of family and community cohesion. The care provided is over and above “helping out” at home.

A young carer becomes vulnerable when the level of care-giving and care responsibility to the person in need of care becomes excessive or inappropriate. The child or young person, is then at risk of this impacting on his or her emotional, physical well-being, educational achievement and life chances.

A Families First assessment is the assessment tool used to assess a child/young person who is identified as providing care to a member of their family and their family (we do not use a separate standalone young carer assessment). A Families First Assessment is offered to all families where a child is identified as a young carer, or is thought to be a young carer, and can only be completed with consent from the family. Consent must be obtained from a family in order to complete an assessment.

If a FFA is in place, practitioners can request a Children’s Practitioner (Young Carers) to be part of the TAF via EHM or by contacting the Families First Helpdesk on 01438 737575 for advice. When there is no open Families First Assessment, then a referral can be made to Children's Services Families First Young Carers Team , who will undertake to complete a Families First Assessment (FFA) and take on the Key Worker role. Practitioners should complete a Service Request Form (green) - Referral Form and the Young Carers Referral Checklist stating clearly what the caring role and issues are for the child/young person.

Young Carer factsheet and checklist can be found at:

Information about Families First Assessments can be found at :