Early Support Service

What we do
Offer support, advice and coordination of needs to families where there is a child or children aged 0-8 years with additional needs or disabilities. The child’s needs would require input from at least 2 specialist services. The current early support coordinator is a registered health visitor who works exclusively with families where children have additional needs.

How we work
Referrals are made by completion of an early support referral form. Every effort is made to make a home visit to the family or to meet in a mutually agreed venue. If eligible for this service, the child is either included in the contacts system where progress is tracked and referrals are made as required or a Team Around the Child (TAC) meeting is held. Contacts has input from families, portage, educational psychology, the early years advisory team and paediatrics, and receives written reports from therapies, health visitors, GPs, the Sensory Impairment Service and ASD Team as required. The result of both meetings is that a plan is co-produced which is then reviewed on a regular basis and shared with family and relevant practitioners. Some children will have needs at any given point which require key working by an individual or a couple of individuals. The early support coordinator endeavours to find a key worker within the child’s existing team to fulfil this role and reviews the efficacy of this at the TAC meeting.

How we support schools
The early support coordinator or particular key worker liaises with special education needs and disabilities coordinators (SENDCos), class teachers and head teachers especially at foundation stage but also at key stage 1. Attendance at any transition meetings or annual reviews is encouraged when key working continues into primary school. Meetings are often arranged by the early support coordinator with schools when it looks likely that some planning and adaptations will be required for a child with specific health needs.

How we support children
The early support approach involves getting to know a child and family well and listen to their aspirations and their concerns. Often a common assessment will be completed at some point in working with a child and family, and this concentrates on strengths as well as needs and involves analysis and a plan to meet agreed outcomes. Early support has been operating in Sutton since 2004 and knowledge had been acquired about the services which might be of benefit to children and how these are best accessed.

How we support parents
Parents/carers are supported by listening to them, recognising them as expert in their child or children and by being open about the sharing of information. Access to records in health and social care and relationships built up over a number of years with all kinds of practitioners in health, education and social care helps to ease communication, and this in turn helps parents/carers and children. The early support workshops are delivered for parents/carers twice a year (4 week course). These are co-delivered by a parent/carer and the early support coordinator. They explore the journey of being a parent/carer of a child with SEND and participants find mutual support in sharing similar experiences, joys and concerns, coming up with joint problem solving and finding out about local resources.

How the service is funded
The coordinator is funded jointly by London Borough of Sutton and Sutton and Merton Community Services. Support functions are funded by LBS.

For further information contact Access Point on 020 8770 4690