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Early Help and the Locality Community Support Service (LCSS)

What is Early Help?

Most children and their families have a good quality of life with minimal support from public services. But at times family life and bringing up children can be demanding and complex. Problems can arise and families may need extra help from universal, targeted and specialist services.

Early help can make the biggest difference. When needs are identified in a timely way, children and families can be supported before problems escalate.  Working with a child and their family to address their needs early can reduce risk factors (needs) and increase protective factors (strengths).

Early help is the collection of all services that work with children and families and how they work together in a co-ordinated way to support children when additional or complex needs are identified.

All agencies working with children and families are responsible for listening to their concerns and worries, to make sure the right support at the right time is offered. This includes using the Strengths and Needs (a tool to explore family life) and where necessary a Team Around the Family (TAF) meeting to ensure co-ordinated support for children and families takes place.

We want families to know that it is always OK to ask for help

Oxfordshire has an Early Help Strategy which all partner agencies are signed up to, ensuring families are offered Early help when emerging need is identified.

The Locality Community Support Service

The Locality Community Support Service (LCSS) offers advice and support to partners in the community to deliver Early help as per Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018.

To support the ambitions of the Early help strategy, LCSS can advise and support professionals and families regarding Early help, including the use of the Strengths & Needs (a tool to explore family life) and Team Around the Family meetings.

LCSS are present in schools and work in the community with partners, both to offer advice, but also to take strategic responsibility for bringing partners together in localities to embed early help and collectively improve outcomes for children and families.

The No Names Consultation ended on 31st August 2023

Please read here for the Locality and Community Support Service Update from the 1st September 2023

Locality Community Support Service Contact Details

Tel: 0345 2412705 Email:

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

LCSS core offer:

  • Locality workers provide visits and review meetings to settings, offering advice and support on delivering Early Help to improve the outcomes for children and their families
  • We provide named conversations to discuss Strengths & Needs, Team Around Family Meetings, and give information on other supports in the community and advice on next steps where necessary
  • We quality assure community Strengths & Needs and provide professional recommendations to improve outcomes for children and ensure multi agency involvement
  • Support professionals with Strengths & Needs and the forming of Team Around the Family meetings and attend where needed to strengthen resources and plans
  • Lead Community Around the School/setting offer (CASO)
  • Facilitate locality networking events to share knowledge and build relationships in local areas to improve outcomes for children and families
  • Facilitate peer to peer support meetings to improve Early help practice

When to contact LCSS

You can call LCSS if you need, advice, support or guidance about Early Help including:

  • Use of the Strengths & Needs or Team Around Family Meetings to support families at an early help level
  • Advice on what other agencies/voluntary sector services are available to support families in localities

Practitioners before contacting LCSS should:

For immediate safeguarding concerns:

If you are concerned that a child is at risk of, or is suffering actual significant harm (see below for examples) you should call the MASH immediately TEL 0345 050 7666:

  • 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

Prior to contacting either LCSS or the MASH please speak to your Designated Safeguarding Lead in the first instance who will be able to offer advice and support