Agenda Item No.
HERTFORDSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL
YOUNG CARERS SCRUTINY TOPIC GROUP 4 (c)
THURSDAY 18 NOVEMBER 2010 AT 10 A.M.
TARGETED ADVICE SERVICE AND EARLY INTERVENTION
Report of the Director of Children, Schools & Families
Report Author: Kathy Amos
Short description of report content
The main aim of this report is to inform the Scrutiny Board of the way in which
Young Carers Professional Assistants are involved with the Targeted Advice
Service (TAS) and Early Intervention. The report provides an insight into how
young carers are identified through contacts and referrals received by the
Targeted Advice Service.
1.1 In July 2009, the ‘Right Response’ project was set up to change how we
respond to contacts and referrals. Statistical evidence showed that
Hertfordshire’s social care referral rates were particularly high and indicated
that some referrals were not meeting the threshold for this service. Further
research showed the need for practitioners to consider the use of the
Common Assessment Framework approach, where a multi agency service
could provide support via Team around the Child/Family meetings.
1.2 In January 2010, a new threshold document was launched (Meeting the
Needs of Children & Families in Hertfordshire). This is aimed at helping
practitioners to better understand when a specialist service (such as social
care) is required to assess a family’s needs and when a Common
Assessment or Universal services approach is more appropriate and
effective in meeting the needs of the family.
1.3 The new arrangements for handling contacts and referrals included the
disbanding of Client Services and by increasing the functions at the
Customer Service Centre. In addition a new team was established
(Targeted Advice Service) to deal with those referrals where the threshold
for social care has not been met. These arrangements were put in place on
the 24th February 2010.
1.4 The Targeted Advice Service (TAS) is an interim multi-agency team which
deals with those contacts where they are not meeting the threshold for
social care. The Customer Service Centre take the initial calls then pass to
the TAS team. The TAS Duty Manager makes a decision on the contact as
to its priority and what needs to happen next. Contacts are then allocated to
the Children’s Information and Advice Officers (CIAOs), Young Carers
Professional Assistants (PAs) or to multi-agency members of the team.
2. Remodelling Support to Young Carers
2.1 Remodelling the Young Carers’ service has been an outcome of the new
arrangements in handling contacts and referrals. It is estimated that 8,000
young people in Hertfordshire under the age of 18 years have a caring role.
In order to appropriately support these young people it is essential that we
ensure mainstream services are identifying young carers and that all
Children’s Services work to meet young carers’ needs. Schools in particular
play a key role in identifying young carers.
2.2 Until February 2010 Young Carers PA’s were based in Assessment Teams.
Whilst their work in these teams was valued, there were indications that they
were working predominantly with families, where the young carer undertook
inappropriate levels of caring, where some safeguarding concerns. It was
felt that relocating the PA’s into the TAS team would allow them to move
towards more early intervention and targeted work, which in turn would
provide greater opportunity to reach more young carers and preventing an
escalation of their needs.
2.3 As part of their relocation to the TAS team, the PA’s attended Integrated
Practice training which includes the ‘Common Assessment Framework’,
‘Team around the Child/Family’ and ‘Information Sharing’.
2.4 PA’s attend ‘Team around the Child/Family’ meetings and where the need
for their support is identified, they will work with the young carer either by
allocating grant funding (to provide an opportunity for the young carer to
have a break from his or her caring role) or liaising with adult care services
to alleviate some of the caring responsibility.
2.5 It is self evident that young carers continue in their caring role over many
years. It is therefore important that they can access support from staff that
are familiar with the young carer’s situation for them to avoid having to tell
their story repeatedly. Practice therefore has been restructured to allow
the young carer to renew contact with a named worker, already familiar with
their circumstances who can take up the work from that point without the
need to carry out yet another assessment.
3. Early Intervention
3.1 Mainstream services referring a young carer for social care intervention,
may find that the information given indicates that the young person requires
targeted rather than specialist intervention. The TAS team may suggest to
the referrer that a Common Assessment Framework (CAF) is undertaken
and that the PA is invited to the Team Around the Child/Family meeting. The
common assessment process ensures that a multi agency approach is put
in place to support the young carer and where appropriate the family. This
will strengthen links between adult services (where they are working with a
parent) and children’s services, to provide support and additional resources
to ensure that the young person’s caring does not escalate to a level
requiring children’s social care intervention.
3.2 From the table below it is clear that since relocating to the TAS team more
young carers are being identified. Referrals coming through to the team,
where it is clearly evidenced that there is a young person carrying out a
caring role, are allocated directly to the Professional Assistant for the
relevant district. The average number of young carer referrals to Targeted
Advice Service is currently 13 per month. In some cases the young person
may not require the services of the Professional Assistant, as they are a
secondary carer rather than the primary carer. In such cases, the family will
be contacted and signposted to a local young carers group.
Referrals to CSF Assessment Team 1st Oct – 31st Dec 2009
Number of Referrals
YOT Pupil Schools GP Carers in CSF internal Parents Anonymous MH ACS
3.3 Being based in the TAS team, the Young Carer PA’s are now given the
opportunity to follow up referrals where the referrer considers a number of
indicators as linking the young person to carrying out a caring role. For
Persistent lateness and absence
Problems completing homework
Isolation from peers
3.4 The PA will speak to the school, school nurse, parents, adult care services
(where appropriate) and if the conversations do indicate that the young
person is starting to take on a caring role, or their caring role has begun to
increase, the PA will arrange to visit the young person and family. Speaking
to the family at this stage may only require the PA to intervene for a short
period of time. This could include helping the family to understand the
impact that the caring role has on the young person, speaking to adult care
services to discuss ways in which their service can change the care
package to alleviate some of the caring role.
4. Key Issues
4.1 Staffing levels - Three FTE workers are funded from Carers Grant, a further
FTE post is funded through CSF Assessment Team.
2 x 2.5 workers in post
1 full time worker in post
1 full time post vacant
1 full time post frozen
4.2 Uncertainty of funding – As with many services, there is ongoing uncertainty
around funding streams to support this young carer’s service.
5. Future developments
5.1 The Target Advice Service was established as an interim measure, until
local multi-agency, integrated support teams are developed and established.
Once the new teams have been confirmed, a decision will be made on how
the young carers’ professional assistants will work within the new teams.
5.2 Evidence from their time in the TAS team already indicates that there is
scope for extending their role, to expand their ‘Think family’ approach via
strengthened partnership working with adult care services.
5.3 The PA’s role could also include undertaking a Common Assessment for
families where there is a likelihood of siblings becoming young carers, due
to a parent’s medical, mental health or drug and alcohol misuse.
6.1 It is crucial that young carers are seen as children and young people first
and that their contribution within the family is recognised. Whenever young
carers are referred into Children Schools and Families, we need to ensure
that their caring role is identified, understood and their needs addressed.
This will mean investing in our workforce now and in the future (when they
are based in the new district integrated support teams).
6.2 Workforce learning and development needs to ensure that everyone in
contact with young carers works in a multi agency way, ensuring that young
carers are recognised, supported and protected from harm.
6.3 It is important that Hertfordshire develops capacity to deliver services that
offer additional benefits over and above mainstream services and meet
specific unmet needs without the intervention of social care. As specialists,
professional assistants can support capacity building at a district level and
work alongside front line staff to develop their understanding of the barriers
that prevent young carers being able to succeed and develop skills to
ensure young carers have the same opportunities as all children.