Latest data shows how Early Help services are coming under increasing threat with opportunities to support children being missed on a significant scale.
The research, undertaken by Action for Children, studied data on early help provision over 5 years from 2015 to 2020 which showed that for every 3 children receiving more costly intensive social care services only 2 were receiving targeted early help support. The report suggests that in an ideal care system, there should be more children and families getting early help and preventative support than need social care.
The report states “When children are referred to social services for an assessment, and they do not meet the threshold for social care support, social workers have the option to close the assessment and make a ‘step down’ referral to early help.
From our data covering 2015-16 to 2019-20, we estimate there were 1.26 million occasions where a closed assessment did not lead to an early help referral. In 25% of these cases, the child in question was re-referred to social care within 12 months, suggesting early help support might have helped them in the interim.
We estimate that there were 320,000 missed opportunities to offer early help in this period”.
The report also highlights the ‘postcode lottery’ aspect of Early Help provision stating that “Early intervention spending is neither equitable nor well allocated”.
The report concludes by calling for the introduction of a legal duty on councils to provide Early Help, an increase in funding for early interventions and more effective collection of data on early help provision and outcomes.
Read the full report here.