The Board received a report from the Strategic Director – People, which presented the new Everyone Early Help Strategy that combined children, adults and public health. The draft document was appended to the report.
It was reported that services to support children, families and vulnerable adults were facing unprecedented challenges. It was clear that early help and prevention services should make up the cornerstone of any delivery model. If low-level needs could be prevented from developing into more serious or acute needs, then this was advantageous to both the provider and service user. It was noted that effective early help and prevention could not only increase independence, improve outcomes and the quality of life for individuals, but also provide a financial return to the Local Authority in the form of cost avoidance and a reduction in the use of more expensive, acute resources.
Members were advised that this transformation in thinking was about undertaking a whole system review of the approach to early help and prevention, with a focus on increasing the resilience of communities and their potential to help themselves, supported by a planned prioritisation of resources, integration, collaboration and understanding the benefits that early help could have on a wide range of longer term outcomes for everyone involved.
The report advised of Halton’s approach to early help and prevention where there had been a long standing commitment across all agencies and strategic partners. It was noted that the Council had restructured in 2016-17 to combine the adult and children directorates to create the People Directorate. Following this it was agreed to create a new joint early help strategy that would sit across the new People Directorate. The report continued discussing the five key aims of the Strategy, and then the three priorities within the Strategy that all agencies would work towards to help further embed early help principles.
Overall Members agreed that help in the early years was important and they would like the Strategy to develop and be a success. They had some reservations with the priorities outlined in paragraph 3.7, requesting more clarity. They also questioned the framework of the Strategy and how would success be measured. In response it was commented that outcomes would be detailed in the delivery plan, which would be included as the document developed. Members discussed the importance of communities, schools, public health, the voluntary sector organisations and community organisations all being involved and brought together to ensure the success of the Strategy. Further, it was suggested that a seminar be arranged to present the Strategy to all Members of the Council.
RESOLVED: That the Strategy be received and comments made noted.