Understanding Thresholds and Early Help Assessment (EHA)

Many agencies, professionals, parents, carers, family members and volunteers are involved with providing support to children and young people in Staffordshire. By collectively working together we can make improvements and a 'real difference' to the outcomes and life chances of the children and young people living in our area that need it the most.

Understanding the access criteria for services and thresholds should strengthen local arrangements and help everyone to work together to identify the best support for an individual child, young person and their family or carers across the spectrum of need.

Section 1E - Staffordshire's Threshold Framework - 'Accessing the Right Help at the Right Time' (705 KB) is an overarching document for the whole of the children and young people's workforce in Staffordshire. This multi-agency threshold framework is a guidance tool that all agencies, professionals and volunteers can use to consider how best to meet the needs of individual children and young people.

This guidance has been developed to reflect the structure of the Early Help Assessment which can be used by all services to provide a standard holistic assessment for children and young people.

When to use the Early Help Assessment (EHA)

The EHA is a simple, easy to use assessment that captures all of a child's needs, with consent, at the earliest opportunity. To make sure that all services that support children and families work in a co-ordinated way so that they understand and respond to children's needs

The EHA is designed to be used when

  • a practitioner is worried about how well a child or young person is progressing (e.g. concerns about their health, development, welfare, behaviour, progress in learning or any other aspect of their wellbeing)
  • a child or young person, or their parent/carer, raises a concern with a practitioner
  • a child's or young person's needs are unclear, or broader than the practitioner's service can address.

The process is entirely voluntary and informed consent is mandatory, so families do not have to engage and if they do they can choose what information they want to share. Children and families should not feel stigmatised by the EHA; indeed they can ask for an EHA to be initiated.

The EHA process is not a 'referral' process but a 'request for services'.

The EHA should be offered to children who have additional needs to those being met by universal services. The practitioner assesses needs using the EHA. The EHA is not a risk assessment.

If a child or young person reveals they are at risk of suffering actual or likely significant harm, the practioner should follow the local safeguarding process immediately


All relevant EHA documents can be accessed via the links below:

Partner Agencies

Families first documents

Education: Staffordshire County Council Learning Net

Families first documents on the SLN

Once you have started an EHA with consent you must register the EHA with your local Families First Local Support Teams and update them of any changes.

Find your local Family First Local Support service Teams


To access the training registration page, please use the following link: Delivering Early Help in Staffordshire e learning training.

Benefits of the EHA for you as a parent/carer

You are present and help make decisions about the type of support that is needed

  • You only have to tell your story once
  • At one meeting you will be able to meet all the workers who are offering support
  • You take a copy of the Action Plan away to remind you who is doing what
  • You know there is one person you can contact who will listen to your views and support you. That same person will be co-ordinating the support for you

Benefits to professionals using EHA

  • It opens up communication channels with parents and improves joint working
  • It is an universal tool, easily transferred between services
  • Used in conjunction with the Continuum of Need the EHA can provide evidence of the need for further support
  • It is family led and empowers parents and carers, enabling them to meet their own families needs
  • It is an opportunity to share concerns and responsibilities
  • It is based on honesty and has a shared solution-led approach
  • Provides a format for regular review of progress

The EHA has also been designed as a way to access the services of the Local Support Teams in circumstances such as additional support for parents, advice and guidance on teenage pregnancy and support with children and mental health issues.