If you think you need some extra support to look after your child there are a number of ways you can ask for help. It is probably best to start by thinking about:
- what difficulties your child is having,
- what help you think would make a difference and
- why that help would make things better.
1. Specialist help which you can get through agencies already involved with your child
The first place to ask for help and support will probably be from the agencies which are already involved with your child. Depending on the age and particular needs of your child, this may be your child’s health visitor, nursery key worker, school teacher, or youth worker (these are just examples). You should explain your concerns about your child and ask for your child’s needs to be assessed.
The worker you have approached should be able to arrange for your family and child’s situation to be looked at using a standard approach called a Common Assessment Framework (or CAF). The common assessment framework should allow you to describe your child and family in detail and set out what things you think would make a difference. The assessment should be led by you and is totally voluntary (so you can change your mind at any time).
When the information gathering process is finished, your child’s needs will have been identified. Then, a plan should be made to help you make things better for your child. The plan may contain for example; a speech and language referral, a free breakfast club place and/or parenting advice for you.
The different people involved in your family should be brought together to agree the plan, this group of people are called a Team Around the Child (or TAC). One of these professionals, usually the person with most involvement with your child, should be made the lead professional and will be responsible for getting any help you and your child need.
2. Help from Children’s Services
If you are worried about your child and feel that not enough help is being provided, and/or that things are not changing enough for your child and family, you should speak to the lead professional about your concerns. The lead professional may suggest that you go directly to Children’s Services and ask for a child in need assessment or may refer your child directly to Children’s Services with your agreement.
A child in need assessment is the gateway to accessing support from Children’s Services.