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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:

For families it is:

This content was reviewed by the Child Protection Team in August 2019.


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:

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

Intensive Family Support Team


Family Support Resource for School Leadership Teams and Teachers

This online guide helps school leadership teams to devise an effective strategy for working with pupils' families - particularly those that need the most help and support. This guide has clear advice on how to have conversations with parents about difficult issues, and a comprehensive guide to national support organisations that school staff can refer parents to free of charge. 

Support for separating families (05/02/16)

Public information materials for organisations that support separating families, including the mediation sector and advice organisations.

Targeted Youth Support Service

This content was reviewed by the Child Protection Team in August 2019.


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 (green form) - and the Young Carers Referral Checklist stating clearly what the caring role and issues are for the child/young person.

Young Carer information can be found at:

Information about Families First Assessments can be found at :

Joint Assessment Visits for Professional Referrers

In order to further develop partnership working and to continuously improve family engagement, Children’s Services have run a joint assessment visit pilot with Health colleagues. This has been very successful and is therefore being rolled out to all partner agencies as agreed through the Hertfordshire Safeguarding Children Partnership.