Early help and assessment of need

Poole threshold of need and the continuum of support

In Poole, we want children, young people, parents and families to be able to easily access 'the right help at the right time.'

The Threshold of Need document includes a matrix outlining the criteria used to identify and address 4 of the 'levels of need' when assessing and working with families. 

This is so that all professionals will understand processes and thresholds and apply them consistently, so that families and children receive the right help at the right time and so that children are safeguarded. 

The 4 levels are: 

  1. Universal for children with Universal Needs
  2. Universal Plus help for children with Additional Needs
  3. Partnership Plus help for children who are Vulnerable
  4. Statutory/Specialist help for children in need of Protection

The 4 levels are not exclusive: all children will access Universal Services, even at the highest levels of need.

All practitioners are expected to use the Threshold of Need document when identifying and supporting families who need more help than can be provided within universal services.

Early Help Advice Point (EHAP)


The EHAP is here to help you get access to the right support when you need it; in the first instance please speak to your GP, Health Visitor or staff at your child’s school or Children’s Centre for Under 5s. If the staff there can not help you then please do contact the EHAP who can give you advice or signpost you to the right people or place.


If you are a professional that is working with a family or young person and have identified that they may benefit from support over and above what you are able to offer them, but they do not meet the threshold for Level 4 services such as Social Care then the EHAP can offer support, advice and signposting to you too. You will need to have explicit consent from the family and/or young person. In such circumstances, please contact the EHAP by phone for an initial discussion. You may then be asked to complete our online request form.

Young people

If you are a young person in Poole who feels that you would like some help or advice please visit our Up in Poole website or contact or drop in to our dedicated young people’s information and advice centre at Number 18 in Poole town centre. It is just off the High Street: 18 Hill Street, Poole BH15 1NR.


If you think that a child or young person is at risk of significant harm please contact Social Care 01202 735046 or mash@poole.gov.uk during office hours. Out of Hours Social Care can be contacted on 01202 657279. You can also contact the Police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.

Early help assessments

All practitioners in Poole are expected to complete an Early Help Assessment whenever a family is identified as having needs at Partnership Plus – Level 3. It can also be helpful to those at Level 2. The Poole Early Help Assessment (PEHA) and the Common Assessment Framework are Early Help Assessments.

During an assessment, information about a child or young person and their family is gathered and recorded in a systematic and holistic yet simple way, so that they, and the family, can begin to understand the needs of the family and what can be done to address them. 

An Early Help Assessment enables practitioners from all agencies to follow the same processes and achieve more consistent assessments that can, with consent, be shared and understood by other agencies, reducing the need for multiple assessments.

This helps families because it means they do not have to repeat their story every time a new service becomes involved with them or when they need some additional support. 

It also means that practitioners working with a family can keep in touch with each other more easily and make sure the child or young person’s needs are being addressed. 

Early Help Assessments are only undertaken with the involvement and consent of the parents and/or young person and, under normal circumstances they would only be shared with consent (please see the Children's Services Privacy Statement for more information about this).

The Poole Early Help Assessment (PEHA) has been adopted by Poole Children’s Services as their standard Early Help Assessment tool and free training on the PEHA and Integrated Working is available for all Poole practitioners.

Please search the Poole Workforce Development website for forthcoming courses. We are continuing to accept CAFs from partner agencies who work across local authority boundaries or who have not yet had an opportunity to attend the PEHA training. 

The Early Help Advice Point (EHAP) keeps a list of Early Help Assessments and Lead Practitioners in Poole, and can provide advice or information about Early Help Assessments or Services, please contact the EHAP on 01202 262626 / ehap@poole.gov.uk. Please register all new Early Help Assessments, changes of Lead Practitioners and Plan closures with the EHAP.

Lead Practitioner

Once an Early Help Assessment has been undertaken and it is agreed that there is a need to involve more than one service to support the child or young person, a meeting should take place with all the people who will be involved, including the parents and young person, to agree the actions.

At this point one of the professionals should take on the role of Lead Practitioner. That person will:

  • act as a single point of contact for the child or family
  • co-ordinate the delivery of the actions agreed. This will reduce any overlap and inconsistency in the services received
  • ensure the actions are reviewed after an agreed period so make sure the needs of the child are being met

The parents and young person should be given a copy of the Early Help Assessment once it is completed, so they can also share it with professionals if they wish to.

Forms and guidance

Further information

Practitioners who need more information about early help processes in Poole, or who would like advice on whether or how to use an Early Help Assessment, should contact the Early Help Advice Point (EHAP) on 01202 262626 or email ehap@poole.gov.uk.

You can use the Family Information Directory to find out about local childcare, activities and a range of other services.

Page last updated: 01 October 2019
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