Last week I hosted a group of children’s services practitioners in our office to discuss some of the challenges of delivering early help. This was the first in a series of sessions where we will look at early help issues in detail. We’ll be sharing experiences, the lessons learnt and discussing new ideas to improve how we deliver services locally. I’ve shared a couple of observations from the first session below.
The first was the similarities that emerged. Despite the range of authorities represented – including London boroughs, unitaries and county councils – the opportunities and challenges were remarkably similar. These ranged from which type of early help model works best, through to how to effectively commission, to how to make sure partner organisations are playing their part in delivering early help. The acknowledgment many councils face similar challenges should encourage closer working and sharing of learning.
My second is that despite the similarities in the nature of the challenges all councils are facing, the attendees recognised that there will have to be a diverse range of responses to fully address need. This is not just different from one council to another, but within council boundaries, from urban to rural, from community to community.
They both point to the complexities and contradictions (as well as the opportunities) in delivering early help. When I was preparing for this session I had imagined that it would be a wide ranging discussion that would lead to four or five neat topics that could be dissected separately at future sessions. However, it was soon apparent that the issues we had identified were so intrinsically linked that breaking the sessions into discrete parts would be impossible.
Much like the necessity to get local partners working together in concert, you also need to tackle each challenge presented by early help in conjunction with the others. The big message is, you can’t deliver early help effectively in isolation from other parts of your local system.
We’ll be holding more sessions like this over the course of the next year so if you’d like to be learn more then drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can send you further details.
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