The purpose of early help  is to prevent any issues from getting worse by offering families support at the right time.

Any professional working with your family, such as those based in schools, health services, and in voluntary sector organisations, can offer early help services as soon as they can see that advice, support and/or intervention may be needed.

Early help works best when it's offered to the whole family and when services are delivered jointly by professionals.

Making a request for services

You can complete a MARS if you want to refer for an Early Help service or if you are worried about a child or young person who is vulnerable or at risk.

Multi-agency request for services (MARS) formIf you need to save a copy of the MARS form please use the ‘Download PDF’ button after you have clicked Submit. As we will be unable to provide you with a copy of the form after you have submitted it.

Early help assessments

Early Help Assessments (EHA) are how professionals identify and assess your family's needs.

We complete the assessment with your family and a range of different organisations, such as schools, police, housing providers and health services. This is so the support given meets the needs of the whole family.

An EHA means everyone can make sure the support is working and making a difference to your family. It also helps to improve local services for everyone.

Locality teams

There are three locality teams in Warrington, looking after multiple areas.

East team

Culcheth, Glazebury, Croft, Birchwood, Poulton North/South, Rixton, Woolston, Orford, Poplars and Hulme.

South team

Fairfield, Howley, Latchford East/West, Stockton Heath, Appleton, Grappenhall, Lymm, Thelwall.

West team

Burtonwood, Winwick, Westbrook, Great Sankey, Whittle Hall, Penketh, Cuerdley, Chapelford, Old Hall, Bewsey, Whitecross.

Lead professional

A lead practitioner should undertake the assessment, provide help to the child and family, act as an advocate on their behalf and co-ordinate the delivery of support services.

A GP, family support worker, school nurse, teacher, health visitor and/or special educational needs co-ordinator could undertake the lead practitioner role. Decisions about who should be the lead practitioner should be taken on a case-by-case basis and should be informed by the child and their family.

It is important to appoint a Lead Professional early in the offer of support. It is particularly important when working using a multi-agency approach as it can help to ensure professional involvement is coordinated, that there is professional accountability, and it ensures the best outcomes for the family, children, and young people. These families being those at Universal plus and Partnership Plus level.

Lead professional FAQs

Why do families need a Lead professional?

It can be difficult for families who require support from a number of professionals to coordinate this themselves. Lack of coordination can lead to delay and drift in the support offered, uncoordinated support, repetition of assessments and a lack of child and families voice throughout.

What is a lead professional?

A Lead Professional will:

  • Act as a single point of contact
  • Take the lead to coordinate support, guide the family through the process of completing an Early Help Assessment (EHA) and arrange a Team Around the Family meeting (TAF).
  • Ensure that any actions identified in the TAF are reviewed in the correct timescales and copies of the TAF meeting and support plans are shared with the family and professionals.
  • Ensure that professionals are outcome focused, actions are reviewed in timescale and effectively delivered.
  • Help to reduce any repetition or duplication in service involvement, preventing the family having to tell their story multiple times.
  • Build a trusting relationship with the family, children and young people to support with engagement and capturing their voice.
  • Ensure that the family remain at the centre of the decisions made to support them. To ensure that the support is empowering the family and ensuring that their wishes and feelings are heard.

A Lead Professional is not responsible or accountable for support delivered by other agencies.

Who can be a lead professional in early help?
  • This person is someone that the family have a supportive relationship with and understands the needs of the family.
  • Everyone is encouraged to actively be involved in integrated working including voluntary agencies.
  • The family will form part of the decision making of the Lead Professional, their voice should be listened to, and they should be treated as partners.

This approach will ensure that effective and coordinated support is in place, and that outcomes are improved for the family, leading to them feeling confident and empowered and the needs being met and sustained.

How can the Lead Professional be supported and what are the expectations?

To enable the Lead Professional to carry out their role effectively they must have access to high quality professional supervision, line management support and access to additional training to support them.

It is essential that the Lead Professional is supported in their role by other agencies:

  • Agreeing to Chair
  • Take and disseminate minutes of meetings.
  • Ensuring that they attend meetings as required and that they provide information and follow through actions as agreed.

It is expected that in the absence of the Lead Professional (i.e., annual leave, short-term sickness or exceptional circumstances), other supporting professionals should continue to support the functions of the Lead Professional where possible. This will ensure children, young people and family members receive seamless support. A TAF should still go ahead even if the Lead Professional is absent.

All Professionals are partners in Early Help, they are all committed to multiagency working.

If there are any disputes or concerns these should be escalated to that professionals manager.

Meeting documents for lead professionals


Can a lead professional change?

Yes – Ensuring that the family are consulted, and their views listened too.

The needs of the family will change which can result in changes in professional involvement.

The Lead Professional role can be discussed at a Team Around the Family (TAF) meeting with all professionals and family in agreement, the change in Lead Professional should be recorded to ensure that everyone knows the ongoing plan and who will lead.