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Hertfordshire County Council

Before you start an assessment

Before you start a Families First Assessment you need to:

  • Attend Families First Practice Standards and Early Help Module (EHM) system training and ensure you have registered as a user of the EHM system (EHM system is our multi-agency case management and recording system for Families First Assessment and tools). All practitioners must be trained and registered as a user to use the EHM system for Families First Assessments.  EHM system training is free and available to book online.
  • Discuss with the family how the FFA could support them and ensure they understand the process
  • Gain verbal consent to investigate who, if anyone is working with the family already and to check if the family already have a Families First Assessment.
  • Once you have obtained consent, contact the Families First Helpdesk on to check if the family has an open FFA or not. (Please note the Helpdesk may ask you a few questions to verity that you are the practitioner you say you are. This could be by calling you back through your agency/service main contact number etc. Please bear with the Helpdesk as they are doing this to protect you and the families from data protection breaches).
  • The Families First Helpdesk will advise you if the family already has open FFA or not. If the family already has an open FFA, the Helpdesk will give you the contact details of the Keyworker for you to contact the Keyworker to discuss any concerns or support needs and how this can be supported through the open FFA.
  • If the family do not have an FFA, the Helpdesk will advise you of this, so you can initiate an FFA for the family.
  • Once you have completed the family registration form, the Helpdesk will set up the family on EHM, for you to start the FFA assessment.
  • Once the family is set up on EHM system and you need to arrange to meet the family to start an FFA with the family and aim to complete this within 3 weeks.
  • Contact other agencies that could help with assessment if appropriate
  • Complete the assessment and finalise on EHM system within 3 weeks
  • There is information available on how to access EHM system training, downloadable word documents, FFA forms, including User Registration Form, FFA Family Registration Form and Early Help Module (EHM) – How to Guides.

If you require support with the FFA process or EHM system, including practice advice and information, please contact your local Senior or Families First Coordinators

Information on a range of local services that families can access or be sign posted to is available at www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/familiesfirst

When not to complete a Families First Assessment

There is no need to complete a Families First assessment (FFA) for every child or young person you work with. Children and young people who are progressing well, or have needs that have already been identified, do not need one.

You do not need to complete a Families First assessment (FFA) where the needs are obvious, or you have already assessed them using your agency’s assessment tool, and your service can meet the full range of those needs. In other words, if you are able to meet the needs the child, young person or their family within your agency/service, and there is no need to involve any other agency or service.

When you are concerned that an infant, child or young person has been harmed or abused or is at risk of being harmed or abused, you must follow the Hertfordshire Safeguarding Children Board (HSCB) procedures after consulting the Continuum of Need - Threshold document.  You can use the HSCB Child Protection Referral form  if you want to make a referral or call 0300 123 4043.

For further advice, see:

  • The Hertfordshire Safeguarding Children Board pages
  • Working Together to Safeguard Children (2015), which provides guidance on how all agencies and practitioners should work together to promote children and young people’s welfare, and safeguard them from harm

    When the family refuse consent

You cannot undertake a Families First assessment unless the child or young person and/or their parent/carer agree. The Families First assessment process is entirely voluntary. If the FFA is refused, (clearly record and keep a record in your case notes. it is important you complete consent denied form on EHM system (see EHM – How to User Guide for further assistance), and if you are concerned about the safety or welfare of a child or young person, you should follow HSCB procedures or talk to your line manager.

If the family refuse consent for a Families First assessment from the outset, you should continue to work with the family and explain clearly the benefits of the Families First assessment as they may wish to take up this offer at a later stage.  If you remain concern that the family has refused consent and you cannot meet the needs of the family without the involvement of other agencies or services, please seek advice and guidance from your local Senior or Families First Coordinators or the  Early Help Advice Line for Professionals.

When family withdraw consent

If the family withdraw consent at any point during the Families First assessment process, then the FFA should stop immediately and case should be closed. It is important you complete consent denied form on EHM system (see EHM – How to Guides for further assistance), and that you keep a record of this in your case notes. Record the reason for family withdrawal of consent clearly in the episode case note on EHM system and reason for closure before closing the FFA episode.

However, if you are concerned after the family has withdrawn consent that the needs of the family may or will escalate without support; please seek advice from your line manager or your local Senior or Families First Coordinators or Early Help Advice Line for Professionals  to identify how best to continue to support the family and ensure you signpost the family to universal services, including the Families First Portal.

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