Council chiefs have approved plans to work with schools in St Helens to support children and families before they reach a crisis point.
Effective early help, which is where children and their families are supported as soon as a difficulty emerges, involves agencies sharing information and working together as part of a tailored plan.
Two Ofsted focused visits of children’s services in St Helens in 2018 and a recent Local Government Association peer review highlighted a number of areas in St Helens Council’s early help offer that needed to be addressed.
To address this, the council intends to launch a pilot project that applies the principles of the council’s new integrated care system, St Helens Cares.
The pilot will support children, young people and families through the implementation of a ‘Team around the School’ model.
“The Team around the School model, as part of a locality-based approach, will provide early intervention and support to children and young people whose needs can be met without the need for specialist services,” a cabinet report says.
“This will ensure families receive a proportionate level of support that is provided at the right time to prevent difficulties escalating to a point at which reactive crisis intervention is required.”
The report says schools will be key to the pilot, which intends to work closely with schools to provide an early help offer.
It is proposed that a Team around the School model will develop through the pilot project, in which two secondary schools and their respective feeder schools will be identified.
Coun Joe Pearson, cabinet member for developing young people, presented a report to cabinet this week on the new early help proposals.
Coun Pearson said: “It is believed schools are central to the locality approach and that early help is best aligned to education.
“Schools are the drivers of early identification of need and are best placed to coordinate and initially plan support, and with access to a vast majority of children and young people.”
The council anticipates the new approach will deliver a number of outcomes across the St Helens Cares integrated care system for the children and young people of St Helens.
These include a contribution to a reduction in the number of cases held and referred to children’s social care, a contribution to a reduction in the number of looked after children and those subject to a child protection plan.
A ‘project delivery group’ consisting of key contributors from across the partnership will established as part of the pilot, which will be overseen by the creation of a children and young people locality management board.
Cabinet approved the proposals.