How families are supported in South Gloucestershire

In South Gloucestershire we want to develop a culture where families are able to easily access the information or support they need. This means that they can take advantage of local opportunities, make informed decisions, and solve their own problems.

Many different services are responsible for supporting and protecting vulnerable families or children, and this includes providing them with extra help to prevent their needs escalating.

This article explains how this support is delivered in South Gloucestershire across education, health and social care.

Page contents:

Identifying needs early

Local organisations, agencies and education settings should have in place effective ways to identify any emerging problems and any potential unmet needs of individual children and families. This is often called ‘early help'.

The council expects all people who work with children and their families to understand their role in the following:

  • early identification of need when things are not going well
  • understanding if there is a risk of things not going well
  • engaging children, young people and their families in conversations, including what information or help they may need

Support is normally categorised into one of the following:

  • Universal
  • Targeted
  • Statutory, or Specialist

The different categories of support are often delivered by specific staff or teams, either within the council or a partner agency. Within South Gloucestershire, teams have different ways to assess needs, depending on the level of support or services they provide.  The Compass Team help families and those working with them to find the right advice and support on how and where to access appropriate early help.

You can read more about the other teams that sit within children’s social care services here.

Families in Focus (Supporting Families Programme)

The council receives funding from government to help families with multiple, complex needs such as worklessness, debt, poor school attendance, mental and physical health problems, crime and anti-social behaviour, family conflict and domestic abuse. This funding promotes early intervention and the principle that a family has one key worker who supports the needs of the whole family Families in Focus.


Universal support are services and provision open to everyone, such as:

  • schools and colleges
  • General Practitioners (GPs, or doctors) and dentists
  • health visitors
  • libraries
  • leisure centres
  • parks
  • after school activities
  • support from family or friends

Your child can attend or be seen by these without needing any specialist resources or assessment to seek help and support.

If your child has a disability they are protected under the Equality Act 2010, all universal services are required to make reasonable adjustments so that people with a disability are able to access them. The citizen’s advice website provides information about the duty to make reasonable adjustments.

Sometimes a child or their family has additional needs, and require more focused support from universal services. This is referred to as ‘Universal plus’.  Examples of this include drug and alcohol advice in schools, parenting programmes, or counselling.

Universal Plus

CCP’s (Caring for Communities and People) Early Help team provide family support in three strands: individual family support, positive parenting courses and community groups (such as Stay and Play Baby Groups). Our aim is to work with families as early as possible and prevent escalation to higher level services.

We offer fully funded preventative family support for parents and children who are identified as 'Universal Plus' on the early help window. We offer positive parenting support, positive play and attachment, mentoring, school readiness support, behaviour technique support, child wellbeing and healthy lifestyles and family relationship mediation. See the Caring for communities and people website for more information.


Targeted support is for children and young people (or their families) with multiple needs, who may need additional support to access services. They may also require support that is specifically designed to meet their needs.

To access some targeted support, a referral may be required. In some cases, you can self-refer.  

This could include:

When additional needs of a child, young person or their family are identified they are often best met from a coordinated, or ‘multi-agency’ approach.

You may hear of the following four things in relation to this approach:

A lead person – this is ideally someone who is already known to your family, with whom you can build a trusted relationship with. They will coordinate any assessment and action plans, and will be your point of contact.

A team around the family (or TAF) – the group of people that the lead person and yourself identify as needing to be involved with your support. This can include other agencies, but also people from within the family network.

Early Help Assessment and Plan – the lead person and the TAF will work alongside your child and the rest of your family to identify any strengths, worries and agree actions needed to meet the needs of your child. The actions agreed will be recorded in this plan. It will be regularly reviewed to monitor progress.

Information Sharing and Consent - safe information sharing is essential for the early help plan to be effective. Families will be actively involved in the plan, and will need to provide consent for information to be shared.

Statutory and specialist

These services are for children and young people with severe and/or complex needs, who are likely to require even more support than is available either through universal or targeted services.

These services are generally accessed following specific assessments to establish need, and check that the child, young person or family meets the necessary criteria. Universal services should remain informed and involved to ensure that children, young people and their families continue to receive ongoing support, regardless of whether the specialist service remains in place.

Examples of statutory or specialist services could be:

There is a higher level of statutory support for children with very complex needs, or those in need of protection.  This may include:

  • child protection services
  • in-patient CAMHS services
  • looked after children (also called children in care)
  • For disabled children, the 0-25 Disability Team

What to do if you need help or support

If you need help or support, it can be useful to talk to someone who knows your child; for example a teacher from their school, or perhaps a leader from any groups or clubs they attend.

National organisations such as Family Lives operate a confidential helpline where you can speak to an advisor for emotional support, information, advice and guidance on any aspect of parenting and family life.

This website, Find information for adults, children and families, provides a wealth information and advice, designed to help families understand what’s available in their local areas. You can browse the categories, or search for specific topics, such as childcare, youth clubs or support groups.

Online resources for families

Parents, carers and family members living in South Gloucestershire have free access to expertly designed online learning and resources on nurturing emotional health and wellbeing so that our children can thrive as kind, sociable and emotionally aware people throughout their lives. For the full details and information on how to access the online learning, please visit:

and enter our exclusive South Gloucestershire ACCESS Code: CONCORDE.

There is a dedicated area of the website, the SEND Local Offer, which contains information on help and support for families and children 0-25 with special educational needs and disabilities.

If you think you may need additional support, or you need to speak to someone about an issue or concern you are having with your child or family you can contact the Access and Response Team (ART). The ART team handle calls from the public, and will gather information about any concerns before assessing each case and determining the next appropriate steps.

You can contact the ART team on the following numbers:

01454 866000 ‐ Monday to Thursday 9am ‐ 5pm

01454 866000 ‐ Friday 9am ‐ 4.30pm

If you are concerned about the safety of a child, call the following numbers:

01454 866000 ‐ Monday to Thursday 9am ‐ 5pm

01454 866000 ‐ Friday 9am ‐ 4.30pm

01454 615165 ‐ Out of hours and at weekends

In an emergency always ring 999

Further information

The Early Help Strategy sets out the vision and strategic priorities for Early Help in South Gloucestershire for the period 2019 to 2024.

Caring for communities and people (CCP) is supporting South Gloucestershire Council to provide Early Help to communities, families, and parents. For further information visit the Caring for communities and people website.