We offer a range of education welfare services and work alongside our partners in the wider early help community to support children, young people and their families

What is early help?

Early help, also known as early intervention, is providing the right support to families, at the right time, to achieve change that lasts. It can be provided at any stage in a child or young person’s life, from pre-birth through to the teenage years.

Early help services can be delivered to parents, children or whole families, but the main focus is to improve outcomes for children and help prevent any situation from escalating, or further problems arising.

Who should offer early help?

As with safeguarding children and young people, early help is everyone’s responsibility. The first person to offer support to a child or young person and their family should be the practitioner identifying the issue.

But for early help to be effective, all local organisations should work together to identify those children and families who would benefit from this service and undertake assessments of their needs (Working Together to Safeguard Children – link to government guidance).

This is know as the Children’s Action Team and can include family workers, targeted youth support workers, specialist youth support workers and education welfare officers.

Assessing needs – Reading’s threshold criteria

Berkshire West’s Safeguarding Children Partnership (BWSCP) has developed guidance setting out the local criteria for action, in an easily understandable and accessible booklet. This is to make sure that children’s needs are responded to at an appropriate level and in a timely way.

For full information, advice and guidance please see the BWSCP website here.

How to access Early Help support

Support we offer

We work closely with schools and other services to provide holistic family centred support in order to prevent issues developing and/or escalating and to make sure children and young people achieve positive outcomes in their lives.

A key worker will be allocated to the family and they will work with the family and other agencies, if appropriate, to assess the needs and develop a plan with clear goals, timescales and outcomes which will be reviewed regularly with the family and other services supporting the family.

The key worker will also ensure that the views of the children and young people are heard and included in the plan. Early help also run a number of parenting group programmes to help parents develop their skills as a parent. These are held in venues across Reading.

Within the Children Action Team, there are many people that can help.

Supporting all families in Reading that receive a diagnosis of Autism for their child/young person.

  • Home Visits
  • Living with Autism course
  • Training
  • Coffee Mornings
  • Advice to families & professionals

If you would like to speak to the Autism Advisor please contact Jenna Redmond on 07912 362341 or email jenna.redmond@brighterfuturesforchildren.org

The EPS provides support to nurseries, school and colleges to meet the needs of children and young people (0–25 years) with additional special educational needs and/or emotional or mental health needs. They work mainly in schools and settings and provide advice via consultations with school staff and parents; carry out assessments and observations of children and young people and undertake direct therapeutic interventions with individuals and groups. Educational psychologists also provide whole school support and training to settings on a range of learning and mental well-being issues.

The EPS provides advice to the local authority when Education, Health and Care Needs assessments are being undertaken for a child or young person.

Requests for EPS support are made by schools and settings, via their Special Educational Needs/Inclusion Co-ordinators.

Work closely with schools to address school attendance issues. They support children and young people and their families to maintain and improve attendance in school and work with other colleagues to address any issues impacting on education, signposting to other relevant support.

The Education Welfare Service also manages the licensing of children in employment and entertainment and issue chaperone licences.

Provide one to one support to families. This is often in the home or can be in a safe community setting and will include supported visits to appointments or groups. They will support families to access the right services to meet their needs – this could be improving the home environment, their children’s school attendance or their parenting skills. They will also work directly with the children.

Portage is an early intervention programme that supports children within their own home, working in partnership with parents and carers.

The Reading Portage service helps families in Reading with young children (0-4 years old) who need extra help with their development. Portage support can happen at home with the family, or at a venue in a group. Families who are referred to the Portage service will receive an initial visit to determine which criteria they meet and will be offered either targeted Portage or specialist Portage.

Targeted Portage support

Families are invited to attend Portage group sessions and will receive advice and guidance from a Portage worker throughout this time.

Specialist Portage support 

It starts with a full assessment of the child’s development. Then, together with parents, long-term goals are set for the child’s development with a plan for educational activities that the family can do at home. Parents get support from a Portage worker during home visits and in-between visits. These visits include three key elements of structured teaching, child-led play, and helping the whole family.

Every cycle of support (10-14 weeks), the family will be reviewed to check whether they still need ongoing Portage support.  

For more details you can read through our Reading Portage Service Guide.

Or you can contact Jessica Kenward on 01189 372 089 or 07773 197 126.

Professionals can refer (with parental consent) through the Children’s Single Point of Access.

You can also find more details about Portage via the Family Information Service.

The PMHW Service is a stepped-care service, based on the THRIVE Model, for children and young people aged 5–18 who need support with concerns around their emotional health. This can include but is not limited to: self-harm, low mood, anxiety and non-complex trauma. PMHWs also work within schools in Reading to provide consultation, mentoring and coaching to school staff concerning the emotional health of children and young people.

This is a unique and valued service providing one to one massage therapy sessions to children and young people, through Reading schools and settings, training staff and providing support to parents and carers.

The children referred to the service typically have diagnoses of Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and/or Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties. They may also experience physical disabilities, developmental delay, difficulties coping with bereavement, anxiety or behaviour and/or other special educational needs.

The service can also offer training to staff in school and parents, on use of massage techniques and supporting sensory needs in school and at home. This service is purchased directly by schools, usually by their Special Educational Needs/Inclusion Co-ordinators.

For more information please visit our service page here or contact Sophie Webster on 07814622986 or Sophie.Webster@brighterfuturesforchildren.org.

Provide one to one support to young people aged 13–19 years (and up to 25 years for those young people with a special educational need or a disability) who are at risk of teenage pregnancy, exploitation, have drug and alcohol misuse issues or are young parents.

Provide one to one support to young people aged 13–19 years (and up to 25 years for those young people with a special educational need or a disability) who are at risk of not achieving their full potential due to a range of issues and risk factors which may include lack of engagement in education, employment or training, poor emotional health, involvement in crime or anti-social behaviour, at risk of exploitation etc.

Targeted Youth Support Workers also offer some youth groups to targeted groups of young people. These include:

  • Young carers
  • Young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or questioning their sexuality
  • Young parents