Clare Moore, Strategic Lead of Youth Offending Service and Prevention, presented the report which outlined the Early Help Service that had been in Thurrock Council for over 10 years. iMPower were commissioned in 2017 to provide support to the service due to the overwhelming demand faced. The strategy recommended was for a more integrated working partnership between the Council and its partners to enable the Council had enough support in the event of a crisis. A key strength of the existing Early Help service is that it already works with families and children in using ‘assets’ and a strength-based model of intervention.
Praising the good report, the Chair asked for a report to be brought back on the 586 children mentioned. She asked that the report provide clarity on the reasons why and what services were being provided to the 586 children. Clare Moore explained that the children’s needs varied and could include domestic violence situations or parents with mental health issues. A breakdown would be provided within the report.
Agreeing that a report should be brought back, Councillor Spillman added that the report should include the actual services that were provided to the children in the Early Help service. He went on to say that early intervention was a good solution to prevent most situations from arising and questioned whether there were enough resources within the service to meet demands. In answer, Clare Moore said the service was resourced well in terms of staffing because there was a large team to deliver the service. Money was re-invested in staff and the service was looking to expand delivery to include the partners.
Councillor Spillman commented that early help intervention was more than just a social care issue as it encompassed other departments within the Council such as the housing service. He queried whether there were systems in place for departments to work together in regards to early intervention. Explaining that there were systems in place, Clare Moore said that relationships were considered more than processes. Relationships between colleagues in departments were strong and processes needed to be strengthened to ensure delivery of the Early Help service. Councillor Spillman went on to agree that there needed to be ‘joined up thinking’ within the Council.
Giving praise to the report, Councillor Johnson understood some referrals to the Early Help service came from the homeless team and he questioned where else referrals came from. He went on to ask if the Members could provide their help in any other areas. Clare Moore answered that referrals usually came from schools and the homeless team and had provided support to families in renting situations to prevent them from falling into arrears. In private rented accommodations, this was sometimes difficult as the service was not always aware families were falling into arrears. The service aimed to develop further within in the adult mental health service and work well with all partners and departments.
Councillor Akinbohun questioned the percentage of successful cases where the Early Help service had been able to help families. Clare Moore said success was measured through parental feedback in surveys and this was currently at 94% upon families leaving the Early Help service. Questionnaires were undertaken with families and those who also knew the family as relatives or friends.
Following on, the Chair sought clarification on the remaining 6%. Clare Moore explained that some families did not want the Early Help service; some families resolved issues themselves and some families did not meet the threshold requirements. The Chair went on to ask if there had been cases where the service had intervened too quickly when it was not needed. In response, Clare Moore said that families would tell the service when they were not needed.
Councillor Liddiard commented on the interesting report and was pleased to hear that there was 94% success rate as it was rare to see those cases.
That the Corporate Parenting Committee noted the report.