Shropshire Council

Strengthening Families (Shropshire programme) - FAQs

What is the strategy for Strengthening Families through Early Help in Shropshire?

This 2016-2018 strategy sets out our vision for children and famlies. 

It sits within the wider Shropshire Council and partnership approach to focus on prevention and wellbeing. Through the offer of advice, support and assistance to the people and communities of Shropshire, it seeks to enable people and communities to help themselves. It puts the home and community at the centre for enabling care and support. This includes promoting engagement of the community and the voluntary sector to identify and meet the needs of their local communities.

The Strengthening Families Programme has a key role in integrating the early help process, championing its principles and working together towards jointly agreed goals. It sets out to develop successful ways of working with families at the earliest stage to help and support them to make positive changes. It also looks to develop resilience within families so that they feel able and confident to deal with problems should they escalate or arise in the future.

Who needs to sign data-sharing protocols?

Any agency involved with family support that wants to access and share information through ECINS, or to participate in professional discussions at locality meetings, will need to sign data-sharing protocols.

Who needs to sign information-sharing agreements?

Any agency involved in family support that wants to access and share information through ECINS, or to participate in professional discussions at locality meetings, will need to sign information-sharing agreements. The agency has a responsibility to ensure workers read and understand the information-sharing agreement and work within its guidelines.

Who needs to sign ECINS memoranda of understanding?

Any agency involved with family support that wants to access and share information through ECINS, or to participate in professional discussions at locality meetings, will need to sign the ECINS memorandum of understanding. The agency has a responsibility to ensure workers read and understand it and work within its guidelines.

Why are these documents needed?

Information sharing is vital to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people. A key factor identified in many serious case reviews (SCRs) has been a failure by practitioners to record information, to share it, to understand its significance and then take appropriate action. These documents help to facilitate the sharing of information as part of the Early Help process. The national guidance offers further information for practitioners on information sharing.

How can I find out which partners have signed up to ECINS?

A complete log of users can be found on ECINS. Alternatively, practitioners can request an up to date list from Strengthening Families: shropshirestrengtheningfamilies@shropshire.gov.uk 

How can I find out which partners have signed the information-sharing agreement?

Anybody who appears on the ECINS user list must have signed the three information-sharing documents. Practitioners can request an up-to-date list from Strengthening Families: shropshirestrengtheningfamilies@shropshire.gov.uk

How is a family identified as needing our support through early help?

In Shropshire we promote professional awareness in identifying the need for early help to any child or young person who:

  • Is disabled and has specific additional needs
  • Has special educational needs
  • Is a young carer
  • Is showing signs of engaging in anti-social or criminal behaviour
  • Is showing signs of substance misuse
  • Is a pregnant teenager/young parent
  • Has indications or associations with those at risk of sexual exploitation
  • Is struggling with bereavement
  • Is at risk of school exclusion
  • Has low self-esteem
  • Has been the subject of a social work plan
  • Is in a family circumstance presenting challenges for the child, such as:
    • adult substance abuse
    • adult mental health
    • adult learning difficulties
    • domestic abuse
    • showing early signs of abuse and/or neglect
    • financial difficulties/debts
    • parents struggling to manage their child’s behaviour
    • housing difficulties
    • poor attachment

Local agencies should have in place effective ways of identifying emerging problems, risks and unmet needs for children and families. This requires professionals to have an understanding of their role, and identifying and understanding the needs of vulnerable children and families.

How are families identified as being part of the national Troubled Families programme?

Locally, families in need of support which can't be met through universal services will have a whole family assessment to identify needs. When this is submitted the Strengthening Families team will determine their level of need matched against the six criteria.