Early Support is part of Dorset's Common Assessment Framework (CAF) for young children who have additional support needs, who are disabled and/or have complex health needs.
What is Early Support?
It is a way of working that supports co-ordinated, family focused services around the child and their family by:
Putting the needs of families and young children first
Keeping families at the heart of decision making about their child
Helping professionals and families work together, to plan services for children
Making sure families are involved right from the start in planning services their child may need
Giving families access to the information they need
Making sure families don't have to keep repeating their child's story
Working together is the key to providing the best care and support. Further information about Early Support Dorset, can be found in the current leaflet (pdf, 545kb) (opens in a new window) .
During the early part of 2011, the Early Years & Child Care Service undertook an evaluation of the Early Support Programme in Dorset. Parents and practitioners were asked for their views of the programme, giving a rounded appraisal of how Early Support has developed during the last 2 years. The results (pdf, 500kb) (opens in a new window) of this evaluation are now available for you to view.
Who is Early Support for?
Early Support provides a standard set of materials (opens in a new window) , full of information and resources for both families and practitioners so that they may work together. There are a wide range of people using Early Support across the county, including:
Families with young babies, leaving hospital with medical and support needs
Older children where the need for extra help becomes clear only in the second or third year of life
Children who have obvious and multiple factors affecting their development and learning
Key Worker/Lead Professional
Some families may benefit from a Key Worker (pdf, 18kb) (opens in a new window) who is a person already known to the family, and can give support by:
Being a first point of contact for the family and professionals
Finding out information about services that are available
Encouraging service providers to work together with the family
Helping the family to organise Team Around the Child and Family Service Plan meetings, with professionals involved
Assist the family in using the Early Support materials and help co-ordinate the care their child receives
How do I find out more?
In Dorset there is an Early Support Development Officer, who can help practitioners and families in accessing Early Support materials and coordinate the programme. Practitioners and families can make referrals to Early Support using the Early Support Initiation Form (pdf, 93kb) (opens in a new window) .
The Early Support Development Officer is able to:
Coordinate the initial 'Team Around the Child' meeting and subsequent 'Family Service Plan' review meetings, on behalf of the practitioner and the family
Send out invitations, chase up replies, and distribute questions the parent/carer would like to ask at the meeting
Attend meetings where needed
Produce and distribute the 'Family Service Plan' following the meeting
Provide ongoing support to practitioners through face-to-face and telephone contact throughout the process
Support practitioners acting as key workers, through regular telephone contact and key worker network meetings