Early Help assessments and plans

What is an early help assessment?

When your child or family needs extra support, we want to find the best way forward as soon as possible. An early help assessment is a new way of everyone working together, which puts your family at the heart of decisions that are made.

It is a tool to discuss and record the family's needs, strengths, the goals they would like to or need to achieve and this leads to a plan to support them. Should the family require more intensive support, it is important that practitioners have completed this record as it will avoid duplication of effort, the family having to repeat their story and will enable Targeted Help or specialist sources to make an accurate decision about how best to help.

Older children may feel able to discuss their situation with a worker and provide their own information.

Based on the information you and your family provide, all those who can offer additional support will create an action plan with you and work together to provide the help your family needs. Only workers who need to know about your family will have information shared with them through written copies or a secure electronic system.

What is an Early Help Plan?

Early Help Plans (EHPs) can be developed using existing assessment and planning processes within agencies. For example, schools may choose to use an SEND Support Plan. Alternatively, there is an Early Help Assessment template which anyone working with children and families can use.

The Early Help Plan is based on a best practice approach to engaging families. The approach used in assessing families makes them central to identifying their needs, supporting them to tell their own story in their own words and being key to planning, implementing and sustaining the changes they need.

Once a plan is developed, the Lead Professional will work with the family and relevant services to implement and review the plan.

Early Help Plans must be given to all family members that were involved, including children and young people (age and understanding permitting).

What is a lead professional?

If a number of people are providing support to your family, one will act as the lead professional. This is the person who will keep you informed, listen to your views and support you. They will also coordinate the 'team around the family' (TAF) review meeting with all the professionals working with you and keep in touch with all services that are providing ongoing support.


The information you and your family provide will only be shared with your consent. However, if a child or other person is considered to be at risk of significant harm, people working with you will have a duty of care to share the information with the relevant services. You can discuss this further with those who are supporting your family.

What do families say about the early help assessment?

  • "Don't be afraid to ask for help"
  • "It can help children of all ages"
  • "I felt listened to and understood"
  • "It makes people aware that you need some extra help"

Files available to download