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Hertfordshire County Council

There are a range of factors which may lead to the transition of families who still have identified needs and are being supported through the Families First Assessment (FFA) process. Keyworkers should encourage families to continue with the FFA process, rather than closing it. The family should also be supported fully to ensure a smooth transition. Consent must be reviewed before information is shared with a new Keyworker.

The following scenarios give some examples to demonstrate circumstances that could trigger a transition for families receiving support through the FFA process, where the Keyworker may change through a case transfer:

  • Family is moving locally within the county – school or home or
  • Family is moving out of county but still require support or
  • Move between settings e.g. primary to secondary or to ESC etc. or
  • Keyworker changing job or roles etc. or
  • Family needs have escalated requiring intensive intervention or
  • Family needs have escalated requiring specialist services statutory intervention (child protection, CIN etc.) or
  • Family request a change of Keyworker or
  • Family is not engaging and needs remain unmet or  
  • Keyworker unable to hold case for a period of time (e.g. due to term time working only)
  • Family not engaging but their needs remain unmet, and does not meet the threshold for safeguarding services etc.
  • Family was supported through statutory intervention and now need to be stepped down to targeted or universal services etc.

The processes set out are to help Keyworkers to manage a transition successfully should the need arise for a family with an open FFA (EHM episode).

Families First Assessment Case Transfer within the county
In circumstances where a family with an EHM episode (open FFA) moves locally within the county – e.g. house move or school move, including from preschool to primary or primary to secondary school etc. In all circumstances, any move/change should trigger a review and discussion by the TAF members led by the Keyworker, and should involve the family from the outset to ensure a smooth transition. The Keyworker and TAF members should work with the family – explain the process and reason for change clearly to the family, and make contact with the new setting to identify a new Keyworker to pick up the case. This could be within a TAF meeting or outside a TAF meeting depending on the timings of the move/change. It is good practice to introduce a new Keyworker or practitioner to the TAF at the next TAF meeting, so that information can be shared in accordance with the family consent. A date for the changeover should also be agreed and it is also advisable to review consent during any change in the Keyworker.

Once a new Keyworker has been identified and agreed with the family, the current Keyworker can arrange to make a case transfer on EHM (see Early Help Module – How to Guides on the Families First Portal). The above process will apply in most cases where a Keyworker needs to change. If the Keyworker is having difficulty identifying a Keyworker from the new setting or another service locally, seek advice and support from your Local Senior Families First Co-ordinator or Families First Co-ordinator.

Families First Assessment Case Transfer – Out of County
Where the family is moving out of county, the Keyworker should follow the above process and contact the neighbouring authority early help service to discuss the case transfer, following discussion and agreement with the family. A list of contact numbers for neighbouring authorities is available. Should you require advice or support to initiate an out of county FFA case transfer, seek advice and guidance from your Local Senior Families First Co-ordinator or Families First Co-ordinator.

Families First Assessment Case Transfer – temporary change in Keyworker
Where a Keyworker is going to be away for a while e.g. summer term due to term time working arrangements, sickness absence or maternity leave etc. The Keyworker and the TAF members should start to plan for this early or as soon as practical, by identifying another practitioner from the TAF for each case who can act as a first point of contact for the family. This ensures that the family is supported over the summer holidays or the short period of absence. Ideally, a TAF meeting should be arranged to facilitate a smooth handover and ensure the family and all TAF members are informed of the change. Whilst this may not always be possible, especially if absence is due to sudden illness for example, a member of the TAF must inform the family before any change. Any change should be recorded on EHM and case transferred to the new Keyworker (see Early Help Module – How to Guides). If the Keyworker is having difficulty identifying a temporary Keyworker from within the TAF members, seek advice and support from your Local Senior Families First Co-ordinator or Families First Co-ordinator

Families First Assessment Case Transfer – Step Up Process
All step up request for partner agencies, where there aren’t immediate safeguarding concerns will be through Families First Action and Impact Meetings, where the Action and Impact meeting Chair – Families First Triage Manager will ensure that there is evidence that early intervention has taken place, and the chair will progress this, with clear direction to the Keyworker on what this process will be. See guidance on submitting a case to the local Action and Impact meeting or if you require advice or support speak to your Local Senior Families First Co-ordinator or Families First Co-ordinator

It is important for the Keyworker and the TAF members, to consider the following in relation to a case that they need to escalate through Action and Impact Meetings:

  • What are the unmet needs of the child, young person and family?
  • What have we tried?
  • What more can we do within existing resources?
  • What has been the impact of support already provided to the family?
  • What evidence do we have that we cannot bring about any further positive changes and a higher level or intensive intervention is needed?
  • Do we need to seek advice from our Local Senior Families First Coordinator?

Please note –

  • This does not negate any partner agencies making a safeguarding referral using Protected Referrals or calling 0300 123 4034 if there are immediate safeguarding concerns. This process is intended for those cases where the risk may have escalated or there has been little progress.
  • Do not stop working with a family if you have requested to step up from an open FFA (EHM episode), until you have received feedback that the referral has been accepted. Sometimes, depending on the nature of concern raised, you may need to continue with an ongoing intervention e.g. where a child is receiving counselling for example. If in doubt, check with the allocated Social Worker once the case has been accepted and allocated before you stop work with the family.
  • It is important to ensure the family EHM episode case note is up to date on EHM system as this will be submitted to Safeguarding and Specialist Services as part of any step up request.

Step Down Process to Families First Assessment (FFA)

Where a family has been supported through Safeguarding and Specialist Services and they have completed their statutory assessment and/or intervention work with the family, the teams will ensure that the assessment identifies the needs of the child/young person and family in order for Families First to identify the most appropriate service, whether the family still requires intensive level of support or targeted or universal support. Some step downs may be as a result of recommendations from an assessment, or follow on from a Child in Need or Child Protection Plan where the need for safeguarding service is no longer evident. The service will be as prescriptive as possible about what areas need to be progressed through Families First support i.e. what the needs are, and will obtain consent from family for Families First support.

All step downs will be received in Families First through Families First Triage Team for triage and decision on which service or partner agency is best placed to support the family. Step down process is initiated from LCS to EHM – Families First. In cases where the case was stepped up from an open FFA, the Keyworker may be contacted directly to pick up the case when it is ready to be stepped down.

If in doubt, seek advice, guidance or support from your Local Senior Families First Co-ordinator or Families First Co-ordinator.