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Getting help early

Children of any age can experience problems at times, and parents or carers can’t always meet their needs by themselves. When children do require some extra support it’s always best to put help in place before things worse.

Early support is for everybody, for families with children and young people of any age, and it’s your choice whether to have it or not.


There are lots of reasons why people look for support. It could be that you’re worried about your child’s health, development or behaviour, or how they’re doing at school, or perhaps because you are caring for a disabled child.

It may be that you’re worried about money or housing and how that is affecting your family. Maybe your child or family is affected by domestic abuse, drugs, alcohol, or crime. Perhaps your child is a carer for other people, or maybe you’ve had a bereavement in the family that’s made life a challenge.

If you feel you and your family might need support to solve some problems, you can ask someone in your life that you trust about early support. This might be a teacher at your child’s school, your health visitor, nursery practitioner, youth worker, or your housing support worker.

Sometimes if someone is worried that you’re having some problems, they might ask you if you would like to talk about early support.

The person you trust in your life will talk with you about the problems you’re experiencing. They will ask what help and support you think you might need. This is called a Family Early Support Conversation.

A Family Early Support Conversation is nothing to be worried about. It’s just a conversation to work out how to help you stop small problems turning into big problems. You can talk about things that are going well and things that you’re proud of as well as things that you’re finding a challenge.

This person will also talk with your child or children in your family to make sure they understand how they are feeling and anything they think they might want some help with.

Together you’ll agree what to write down so there is a record of what you talked about.

What happens next will be different for every family. You might make a plan with the person you spoke with to sort out the problems. You might want to meet with other people who might be able to help. This is called a team around the family meeting. Or you might want to get a service (like a Family Hub or Early Help & Prevention) to give you the help you feel you need.

These are just examples. You have control over what happens next and can say what you want.

If you decide you’d like some help, the person you talked with will ask if they can share details of your conversation. You need to be happy with this and give your permission. This is to make sure the people who will be supporting you are able to do a good job for you and understand the journey you and your family have been on.

There may be times when the person you talked to has to share information. This includes:

  • if they think a child is at risk of harm
  • if they think an adult is at risk of harm
  • if they think the information could help prevent or detect a serious crime

Social care won’t get involved unless one of these things happens, or unless the circumstances in your family change and become more serious.

Remember, it’s your choice to have early support. And early support is just to help you and your family stop small problems turning into big problems – and hopefully into no problems at all.

If you’d like to find out more about early support, talk with someone in your life that you trust, for example:

  • Midwives
  • Health Visitors
  • Nursery worker
  • Teacher
  • Other workers you might be in contact with such as Youth Workers, PSCOs or Housing Officers

And ask for an Early Support Conversation. This leaflet explains a bit more about the process

Some families may have difficulties that require more targeted support. A referral to Early Help and Prevention could be completed to enable this support to take place. The service is provided by Portsmouth City Council and Solent NHS Trust.

The Early Help and Prevention Service has specialist family support workers across the city who work directly with families, provide information, advice and guidance, offer team around the worker input, strategy input and have key relationships with partners. They aim to provide extra practical help with families early on, to stop problems getting worse.

For children aged 0-5 this is led by health visitors and for children aged 5-19 it’s provided by family support workers.

This leaflet explains more about this service.

The Family Information Service website shares information, advice and guidance for families with children from pre-birth to 19

Family Assist is an innovative new way of ensuring that parents and their friends and families have access to a wide range of information and resources, both local and national, at their fingertips

You can find out about more types of support using the links below:

If you are worried about the safety of a child go to the worried about a child page