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Early Help and the Locality Community Support Service (LCSS)

What is Early Help?

Whilst most children and their families in Oxfordshire are able to have a good quality of life with minimal additional support from public services, there are some who find life more difficult for a variety of reasons. At different times in their lives, children, young people and their families in these circumstances may need additional support and help from universal, targeted and specialist services.

There is strong evidence that helping families early and providing support at the right time at the right place can reduce the likelihood of problems escalating and improve long term outcomes for children, young people and their families. This enables families to move on from difficulty and lead happier and healthier lives.

Early help can make the biggest difference when support for families is provided before problems escalate. The concept of early help, or early intervention as it is sometimes known, reflects the widespread recognition that it is better to identify and resolve problems early, rather than to respond when difficulties have become acute, and demand action by more expensive and specialist services.

Working with a child and their family to address their needs early can reduce risk factors (the worries) and increase protective factors (what is working well). Protective factors can reduce risk to a child’s wellbeing and includes:

  • Developing strong social and emotional skills
  • Having a strong social support network for the family
  • Support for good parental mental health
  • Having good income support, access to benefits and advice
  • Having access to good community services and facilities

Providing early help to children and families is a priority for Oxfordshire County Council and its partners. Together we are committed to ensuring children and families get the right help and support at the earliest opportunity.

We want every child, young person and family to get the help and support they need to succeed as early as possible. This is what we call Early Help.  Early Help needs for Children and Families can be identified using the Early Help Assessment and Team Around the Family tools. (these can be found on the OSCB website: Multi-Agency Toolkit – Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board (oscb.org.uk)

To support families and partner agencies with Early Help, Oxfordshire has a Locality Community Support Service that gives advice and support in relation to the Early Help Assessments and Team Around the Family meetings that are a vital tool in supporting Early Help in the community.

LCSS

The Locality and Community Support Service (LCSS) is part of Children’s Services LCSS are the first point of contact where non-immediate safeguarding concerns are identified.

The LCSS provides advice and guidance to universal partner agencies including schools, health and voluntary and community groups, across Oxfordshire when emerging concerns are raised for children that do not require an immediate safeguarding response.

LCSS also provide advice, support and signposting to parents/carers who can contact LCSS directly to talk through any concern or support need. LCSS may complete Early Help Assessments (EHA) directly with families or identify professionals, that have existing relationships with the family to complete the EHA e.g. a member of school staff, a health visitor.

LCSS aim to support families at the earliest opportunity when needs arise and encourage practitioners and parents to contact LCSS to discuss needs so that advice can be offered and appropriate support identified to prevent escalation of need, whenever possible.

The role of the LCSS

LCSS will work with parents/carers and practitioners (including community and voluntary partners) and provide the following services:

  • Advice, guidance and signposting for parents/carers
  • Advice and guidance to all community practitioners who have concerns about a child or family, which is not an immediate safeguarding concern (these should be referred straight to the MASH)
  • A named link worker to specific organisations for, example schools and GPs
  • A No Names Consultation service which enables practitioners to talk through concerns for children where there is no consent from the family
  • Support practitioners when a MASH enquiry does not lead to a Statutory Children’s Services referral, to ensure that Early Help Assessment (EHA) (previously CAF)/Team Around the Family (TAF) processes are in place within the community
  • Support practitioners/families to access targeted Early Help support within Children’s Services to ensure children get the right support at the right time
  • Review all Early Help Assessments and support practitioners to complete them where appropriate, and offer feedback to support on-going professional  development
  • Provide support to Lead Professionals and families, including the provision of advice and attendance at Team Around the Family meetings where appropriate
  • Deliver Early Help Assessment & Team around the Family training to ensure plans are child centred and family focussed. In addition, the team will facilitate local network and training events in response to your area’s need
  • Share information of the services/resources available to partners which can be used to support children and families within their locality
  • If the family has an EHA/TAF and non-immediate safeguarding concerns arise that require a referral to Children’s Social Care (CSC) the LCSS worker, if in support, will initiate this referral into CSC with the knowledge of the family

Advice and support

The LCSS Teams will provide advice and support to practitioners and families on Early Help Assessments (EHA) and Team around the Family (TAFs). They will also be responsible for the storage, reviewing and feedback to practitioners on EHAs and TAFs completed.

All EHAs and TAF minutes will need to be sent to your local LCSS team. To find out more about EHA/TAF processes including documents please go to: Multi-Agency Toolkit – Oxfordshire Safeguarding Children Board (oscb.org.uk)

Parents- when to contact LCSS

If you don’t already have a Social Worker or Early Help worker, and you have concerns, support needs or need advice for yourself or your child, please contact LCSS to discuss this.

Practitioners – when to contact LCSS

You should contact the Locality Community Support Service if you:

  • Have emerging concerns for a child that do not require an immediate safeguarding response
  • Need support or guidance with an Early Help Assessment or TAF
  • Wish to complete a No Names Consultation

Practitioners should:

  • Discuss their concerns with the family
  • Gain advice from LCSS ideally with family’s knowledge
  • If you wish to discuss a concern without a family’s consent you can gain advice via a No Names Consultation only
  • Refer to the Threshold of Needs Matrix before calling

If LCSS are supporting you with a family and immediate safeguarding concerns arise, you must still call the MASH immediately on 0345 050 7666

LCSS No Names Consultations

A No Names Consultation enables practitioners to talk through concerns they have for children when there is not an immediate safeguarding concern and where there is no consent from the family.

LCSS operate across the North, Central and South of Oxfordshire – the contact numbers are for all partner agencies in Oxfordshire (including our voluntary/community agencies).

Early Help Referral Route

LCSS will work with practitioners and families to identify those who require additional support from the Targeted Early Help Team in the Family Solutions Service, and will facilitate a service from the team if required.

Find your LCSS Link Worker

Schools, nurseries, surgeries and voluntary groups all have a named LCSS Link Worker assigned to them. They provide a point of contact for discussions, concerns, information and guidance. They  work with other groups and organisations in your local area. They can alert you to concerns and help you find local support.

You can find your organisation by checking the lists below. If your organisation is not yet included, contact your area office to be assigned a link worker.

Contact details:

Name Contact Email
LCSS North Tel: 0345 2412703 LCSS.North@oxfordshire.gov.uk
LCSS Central Tel: 0345 2412705 LCSS.Central@oxfordshire.gov.uk
LCSS South Tel: 0345 2412608 LCSS.South@oxfordshire.gov.uk

Opening Hours: 8.30 – 5pm (Mon – Thurs) 8.30am – 4pm (Fri)

Community Around the School Offer (CASO)

These documents set out the Community Around the School Offer to educational settings within Oxfordshire.

The LCSS, School Health Nurses, CAMHS and additional partner agencies are working closely together to avoid duplication and to ensure schools know who to contact and when.  This offer pulls together the resources already available to your schools within the local community, with LCSS leading on the co-ordination of any Community around your Schools meeting as and when required.

Immediate Concerns about a Child

The Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) will remain the front door to Children’s Social Care for all child protection and immediate safeguarding concerns. If there is an immediate safeguarding concern, for example:

  • Allegations/concerns that the child has been sexually/physically abused
  • Concerns that the child is suffering from severe neglect or other severe health risks
  • Concern that a child is living in or will be returned to a situation that may place him/her at immediate risk
  • The child is frightened to return home
  • The child has been abandoned or parent is absent

You should call the MASH immediately

Tel: 0345 050 7666

(This number will take you through to Customer Services who will ask a series of questions and triage into MASH where safeguarding concerns are raised).

A No Names Consultation should not be used for the above scenarios.