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The Early Help Assessment

The Early Help Assessment

Scope of this chapter

NOTE: This procedure applies to assessments which may be known by different names in different areas, for example:

  • Bolton - Early Help Assessment;
  • Bury - Early Help Family Support Plan (EHFSP);
  • Manchester - Early Help Assessment;
  • Rochdale - Early Help Assessment;
  • Salford - Early Help Assessment;
  • Stockport - Early Help Assessment;
  • Tameside - Family Common Assessment Framework / Family CAF.

Related guidance


In June 2024, local information was added for Wigan.

June 20, 2024

The Early Help Assessment (EHA)/CAF is a shared assessment tool used across agencies in England. It can help professionals develop a shared understanding of a child’s needs, so they can be met more effectively. It will avoid children and families having to tell and re-tell their story.

The Early Help Assessment is an important tool for preventative services. The Assessments have been designed specifically to help professionals assess needs at an earlier stage and then work with families, alongside other professionals and agencies, to meet them. The provision of early help services must take a pro-active approach to working with children and families. Efforts should be made to re-engage adolescent children to ensure they get support at the earliest opportunity.

The Early Help Assessment is not for when there is concern that a child may have been harmed or may be at risk of harm. In these circumstances the procedures set out in Part 3 of this Manual must be followed.

However, where an Early Help Assessment exists, it can provide useful information to assist with Section 47 Enquiries and other assessments.

Some children have important disadvantages that currently are only addressed when they become serious. Sometimes their parents know there is a problem but struggle to know how to get help.

The most important way of ensuring that these children can be identified earlier and helped before things reach crisis point is for everyone whose job involves working with children and families to keep an eye out for their well-being, and be prepared to help if something is going wrong.

The Early Help Assessment has been introduced to help do this. It is a tool to identify unmet needs. It covers all needs, not just the needs that individual services are most interested in.

Can a young person give consent for an Early Help Assessment without their parents being involved?

Yes, but to be fully effective the Early Help Assessment process requires good communication with all parties. For an Early Help Assessment to be undertaken you must first obtain agreement from the parent/carer and/or the child. A child under the age of 16 can agree as long as they have the Capacity to understand. Where a child or young person is deemed capable of giving consent, it is unlikely that parental consent will override the decision made by the child or young person. However, practitioners should always encourage children under 16 to involve their parents/carers as appropriate.

The Early Help Assessment process is entirely voluntary, however where a parent refuses to engage and you are concerned about the safety or welfare of a child, you should follow escalate your concerns by talking to your safeguarding or child protection team.

See Dealing with Persistent Non-Engagement with Services by Uncooperative Families Procedure.

Each area has its own local Early Help procedures, which include Lead Professional Guidance and Multi Agency Practice Standards, which can be accessed from their websites - please click below to access.

Early Help Assessment website links:

See also:

Links to local Early Help strategies:

Local Early Help Strategies sit alongside Thresholds for Children's Social Care Procedure.

Last Updated: June 17, 2024