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MASH, Early Help and Local Area Teams

Early Help is everyone’s responsibility and typically best provided or coordinated by the organisations already working with the child and their family. Support delivered by practitioners with established positive relationships will always have greater chance of engaging children and families and maximising positive outcomes.

Keeping Children Safe in Education 2018 reminds us that

Schools and colleges and their staff are an important part of the wider safeguarding system for children. This system is described in statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children.

And Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 states

Decisions about who should be the lead practitioner should be taken on a case-by-case basis and should be informed by the child and their family.

Early Help aims to support practitioners working together to improve outcomes for children and young people. It involves the use of common tools, processes and language (such as Common or Early Help Assessment, Information Sharing, YorOK Child Index/eTrak, Lead Practitioner).

Thresholds

Refer to the CYSCP Threshold document pdf. A guide to help you decide what level of concern you have about a child or young person.

MASH and Early Help

If you have a concern that a child is vulnerable or at risk of significant harm please contact the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub in York.

Phone: 01904 551900

Email: MASH@york.gov.uk

Post: MASH, West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA

Outside office hours, at weekends and on public holidays contact the emergency duty team telephone: 01609 780780

When should I contact MASH Early Help Team?

Where you feel a family needs can be supported at an early help level, you can speak with a MASH Early Help Coordinator who can provide advice and support about early help assessments, processes and interventions. They can be contacted on 551900 option 2.

If making a referral for early help support please submit the MASH Referral Form (opens in .docx document) to earlyhelp@york.gov.uk

What happens when the MASH Early Help Team is contacted?

The MASH and wider children’s services use various tools to identify the most appropriate level of support. One of these tools is the Levels of Need document. When working with a child, young person or family you should use this to help identify the most appropriate support for them.

The MASH Early Help Coordinators will provide advice and triage early help referrals to help identify the most appropriate support for the families. This support may include that of partner agencies and/or the Local Area Teams.

The Local Area Teams can support families whose needs meet those described in Level 3 of the Levels of Need document and where Targeted Early Help support is required. This support will include direct work with members of those families, and where there is an increased level of risk, the Local Area Teams may also take on the role of Lead Practitioner within the Family Early Help Assessment (FEHA) process.

Where a family’s needs meet those described in Level 2 of the Levels of Need document, support should be offered from the existing network of professionals already supporting the family. In most cases, it is recommended that this support is coordinated through the FEHA process.

If the Local Area Teams have been part of the TACF, they will withdraw from this after successful intervention and the FEHA process will continue with the existing network of professionals.

If there has been a higher level of risk, and the Local Area Teams have been the Lead Practitioner, but the level of risk has now reduced, then a new Lead Practitioner will need to be identified from the existing network of professionals and the Local Area Teams will withdraw from this.

What support can the MASH Early Help Team Coordinators provide?

The MASH Early Help Coordinators are able to support you in your role of supporting families at an early help level and coordinating through the Family Early Help Assessment (FEHA) process.

Support available includes –

  • There is an Early Help Training Offer available which includes 4 modules to support with the FEHA process, this will be delivered as multi agency training sessions, or can be delivered as bespoke sessions in your school.
  • The MASH Early Help Coordinators will provide a prepopulated FEHA including any details they may have gathered as part of their enquiries. This will help to facilitate the progression of the FEHA process.
  • A Responses to Need document has been created to provide details of appropriate services available to support specific needs of the children, young people and families you are working with.
  • Advice and support around the FEHA process is available from the Local Area Teams via your link worker or the MASH Early Coordinators.
  • The Family Information Service can provide details of services available to support any needs identified within the FEHA process. They can be contacted via fis@york.gov.uk or 01904 554444.

Early Help Strategy

The Early Help Strategy outlines (opens in pdf) our ambition for early help services for children and families, and the principles that guide us. This strategy sets a landscape which enables flexible, place-based responses to need in a safe and evaluated over-arching framework.  Children, young people, families, communities and all multi-agency partners will make this strategy real themselves by setting local priorities and taking steps to meet need.

By securing the positive characteristics outlined above we will not only ensure greater levels of resilience but also that children, young people and families themselves will narrow gaps in a whole range of outcomes between those that do well and those that are disadvantaged.

The Early Help Strategy sets out how we will achieve this by:

  • Helping us to understand the differing needs of children, young people and families across our city.
  • Ensuring that children, young people, families and communities have a voice in helping us understand need and how best to respond.
  • Identifying which children need extra help so that no child will slip through the net.
  • Making sure that early help is proportionate, timely and secures long term outcomes.
  • Letting us know that we are making a difference.

Local Area Teams

Multi-agency and multi-disciplinary

The Local Area Teams were formed in January 2017. The Local Area Teams are not just another council team or structure. A key feature of the new model is a step change in the development of multi-agency teams to best meet the needs of communities. Bringing these partners on-board makes the offer made by Local Area Teams much broader and richer.

Localities

The map below shows how Local Area Teams reach across the city through three localities. Local Area Teams will have their office bases located at the three designated children’s centres of:

  • Tang Hall
  • Hob Moor
  • Clifton

Officers will be based in these locations but will operate across the city either through supporting other practitioners or work directly with children, young people and families.

Teams within the Local Area Teams

Management Team

City-wide

Paula Richardson – Interim Head of Early Help and Local Area Teams

Alan Hodgson – Outcomes and Quality Manager

 

Area

Service Manager

Practice Manager

North

Steve Flatley

Jackie Royce

West

Steve Flatley

Sarah Lewis

East

Paula Richardson

Jonathan Gregory

 

 

Local Area Support Practitioner

The Local Area Support Practitioner (LASP) is all about ensuring the right response to what children, young people and families need. LASPs will be visible, named contacts and form strong relationships with key partners in the local areas such as schools, childcare providers, health provision and the voluntary and community sector. They will be regularly seen in these settings and act as a key source of support for families and for the children’s workforce.

They will look to understand what support the various practitioners across the local area need when working with families to get long lasting results, and to balance their responsibilities as lead practitioner with the rest of their work. The range of support from the Local Area Support Practitioner could range from talking through options and providing information, helping assess a family’s needs, to drawing together partners to support families and provide meaningful and escalating support to families and lead practitioners. In some cases they can take on the role of lead practitioner. Before taking on a lead practitioner role consideration needs to be given to need vs cost (financial / social risk of doing nothing) vs the capacity of others.

The Local Area Support Practitioner isn’t about a person who can “take on” all early help cases. They are people who can make the early help system work, get the right levels of creative response and help sustain improved outcomes for families.

Local Area Support Practitioners are expected to be able to work across the 0-19 (25yrs for identified disability) age range but will take on specific age range portfolios where they are expected to have a deeper knowledge. The distribution of these portfolios will reflect key developmental stages, supporting transition and the range of issues identified that affect better outcomes for children.

Project Officers

Moving towards Local Area Teams represents a huge change to how we work. Ensuring the safe and effective transition from existing practice to the new model will require some additional capacity. The Project Officers will provide some fixed term capacity to support changing how we work in a number of different ways. Work undertaken by the Project Officers will include:

  • Commissioning
  • Quality Assurance / Workforce / Outcomes
  • Facilities
  • Multi-agency
  • Operational (inc. Duke of Edinburgh)
  • Systems / Data
  • Communications

LAT Practice Manager

The LAT Practice Manager is focussed on day-to-day management and support for front line practitioners. They are there to support practitioners with their workload, discuss progress, unblock challenges and keep the machinery of early help moving.

The post provides operational management, supervision and support to the Local Area Support Practitioner, Learning and Work Advisers, the Information Officers and some multi-agency staff. They support their staff to ensure quality, consistency and positive outcomes. Acting as a point of escalation they can help to unlock challenges or work with partners that may have become stuck.

They work to make sure that the people they manage have the right skills, knowledge and professional development for their work and future progression. As well as supporting staff across the pregnancy to adult hood agenda they have a deeper operational knowledge in particular age ranges and themes that can be drawn upon by LATs across the city. This gives depth as well as breadth to their work and ensures that across the city there is sufficient operational knowledge and management in place to support staff.

LAT Service Manager

The LAT Service Manager role plays an important role in having complete oversight of a particular Local Area Team as well as leading key priorities on a city wide basis. The LAT Service Manager will need to secure the commitment and involvement of partners in local areas and across the city on the full range of agendas that affect family life. York has a history of working in partnership but there is a clear need to make a step change in how we all work together in order to rise to the challenge of securing good outcomes in the face of changing resources.

The LAT Service Manager brings together partners in each area to agree to shared priorities and commit to working together under a local area outcomes plan. They manage relationships with partners such as schools, the police, health and community leaders, supporting and challenging these as required. They need to change the picture from silo working to working in partnership, from co-location to true integrated working.

The LAT Service Manager will also be the key strategic lead for priority areas across the city. For example one of the LAT Service Managers may have a particular strategic responsibility towards ensuring the early years offer across the city is functioning as it should. Another manager may well take on particular responsibility to draw together the resources and delivery required for the city centre offer to young people.

There is a huge framework of statutory legislation and guidance that underpins the work of Local Area Teams across the 0-19 agenda. Working Together, Children’s Centres, Children and Families Act, SEND Code of Practice, Education and Skills, the Childcare Act, to name a few. The LAT Service Manager needs to make sense of this raft of different requirements and inspection frameworks for their area of expertise and ensure that service delivery is both effective and in line with what is required.

Outcomes and Quality Manager

Key questions that the Local Area Teams will need to ask themselves are:

  • What outcomes are we trying to improve?
  • What is actually happening to these outcomes?
  • What interventions and ways of working make a difference to these outcomes?

The Outcomes and Quality post is all about getting under the skin of these questions and understanding the impact of Local Area Teams, driving their continuous improvement. They will operate across the city and ensure a consistency of quality to the early help offer.

They will hold an overall city wide responsibility for the Troubled Families programme and ensure that this is embedded within the work of Local Area Teams and partners. Working alongside the capacity provided by the data and systems Service Level Agreement they will ensure that Payment By Results for Troubled Families can be claimed and will meet auditing requirements. This is vital in securing income that supports the work of Local Area Teams.

The Outcomes and Quality Manager will also work with the Head of Early Help and Local Area Teams to commission city wide and build longer term capacity in response to need. This commissioning will tackle common features of early help needs seen across the city.

Head of Early Help and Local Area Teams

The Head of Early Help and Local Area Teams has overall responsibility across the city for delivery of the new operating model and the city’s Early Help Strategy. They will take the strategic lead across a number of early help agendas and drive the city wide multi-agency governance arrangements underpinning the work of Local Area Teams. This means engaging with the YorOK Board, the Safeguarding Children’s Board, the Council Executive and Elected Members. In addition they play a key role in ensuring the work of Local Area Teams works in the context of an overall system for children and young people. This means how it works in relation to statutory level social care interventions, education, SEND and to the wider agenda of the council and of multi-agency partners.

They will support the management team to create the right environment for Local Area Teams to deliver positive outcomes for families. Working alongside senior management in multi-agency partners they will work to secure the resources and commitment needed to realise the long term aspirations of Local Area Teams.

Amendments

Due to a recent restructure to the LAT service from summer 2021, please note the following changes to the below team: 

Learning and Work Advisor

Learning and Work Advisor has changed. Young People seeking support for education, employment and training opportunities can contact Future Goals via their online enquiry form, or contact the Young People's Information Service for information on local and national support services tel: 01904 555400 / fis@york.gov.uk  Young People in care or who have an Education, Health and Care Plan can receive support via the newly formed Specialist Learning and Employment Advisor Team.located within the Education and Skills directorate.

Information Service

The Information Service (York Family Information Service and Information Service for Young People, have moved to the Customer and Communities directorate within the Communities and Prevention service and continue to deliver impartial information and signposting to local and national services to all children, families and young people (including practitioners working with them) in York.

Community and Partnership Officer

The Community and Partnership Officer post has relocated to the Customer and Communities directorate within the Communities and Prevention service and is now known as Community Officer.

Volunteer Lead

The Volunteer Lead post has relocated to the Customer and Communities directorate within the Communities and Prevention service

Information Sharing

All agencies should share information on children and young people they know to be vulnerable via the MASH Early Help Coordinators (551900 option 2 or earlyhelp@york.gov.uk) with consent.

Effective information sharing allows agencies to fulfil their duty under section 10 of the Children Act 2004 to co-operate in improving the wellbeing of children in the area.

Information sharing is not about controlling the lives of children and young people, but maximising their life chances. Decisions about service provision can be made with a more informed picture of the contributions of those involved. By piecing together sometimes disparate bits of information, a much better view can be gained of the needs of a child or young person. We can then ensure that the right services can be delivered at the right time.

Why should we share information?

Sharing information is vital for early intervention to ensure that children and young people get the services they require at the time they need it. Information sharing is also essential to protect children and young people from suffering harm from abuse or neglect, and to prevent them from offending.

Seven golden rules for information sharing

  1. Remember that Data Protection Act is not a barrier to sharing information
  2. Be open and honest
  3. Seek advice from your manager and/or the Local Area Team
  4. Share with consent where appropriate
  5. Consider safety and well being
  6. Necessary, proportionate, relevant, accurate, timely and secure
  7. Keep a record

What to share and how to share it

  • Share the information which is necessary for the purpose for which it is being shared.
  • Gain consent from the child/young person (according to age and understanding) or parents/carers.
  • Contact the MASH Early Help Coordinators on 01904 551900 opt2 or earlyhelp@york.gov.uk. The Local Area Team can tell you who else is already working with a child or family, and give advice about other options.
  • In circumstances where you are concerned that a child or young people may be at risk of harm, it may not be possible to gain consent from the young person or parents before sharing information. You should not let anything delay you in getting advice from a social worker if you are concerned a child may be at risk of harm. You can contact Children’s Social Care within the MASH on 01904 551900 option 3 or MASH@york.gov.uk

The North Yorkshire and City of York Partnership Information Sharing Form can be used if you think you have information to share with the police about situations in which children, young people or adults may be vulnerable to exploitation. If someone is at risk of immediate harm you need to call 999.

Further guidance is available on the Government's Information Sharing Guidance 2018 (open in pdf).