Universal Plus (TaF Recommended)

Description/Criteria

Children, young people and their families with emerging vulnerabilities whose needs would benefit from further assessment and support. Assessment could be conducted by a single agency e.g. CAMHS, Speech and Language, etc or through contributing to a multi-agency assessment such as a Team around the Family (TaF) or other assessment tool in the SCP Multi-Agency Toolkit

Parents / Carers show a willingness and understanding of the benefits of accessing support as they cannot meet their child’s needs without some help. It is important to remember that sometimes parents/carers will struggle with accepting or engaging with support and their responses can present in different ways:

  • They may give the appearance of co-operating with professionals to avoid confrontation or to please the professional and allay concerns
  • They may openly refuse to engage for instance not permitting access to a child, entry to a home, declining offers of support

In these circumstances it is important to explore the reasons for parents/carers resistance to accepting help. Do they have the capacity to understand what is being offered e.g., are there any language barriers or learning needs? Are they frightened about what might happen e.g., fear of the children being removed or a parent experiencing domestic abuse that fears reprisals if services intervene? Do they have negative previous experience of service involvement? Trauma-Informed Practice approaches should assist professionals in developing an empathetic approach that can result in an increased level of trust and a more open response which in turn increases willingness to engage. Partners are encouraged to retain focus on change in the family/carer system and the impact on the lives and wellbeing of the child as this is a more reliable measure than verbal agreement of parents/carers to engaging with support. 

Assessments at this level is important. It enables practitioners to engage with children and families to understand their holistic needs, and if support is needed for the presenting issue or broader needs. When more than one service needs to be involved to meet emerging needs then co-ordination via a Team around the Family Plan is encouraged. A proactive response to emerging needs at this stage can prevent problems accelerating, improve outcomes for children and avoid the need for longer periods of involvement in a family’s life further up the Continuum in future.

Team Around the Family (TAF)

Outcomes seen at this level (this list is not exhaustive)

Needs of the Unborn, Child, Young Person

  • Late reaching developmental milestones.
  • Emerging concerns regarding diet or clothing
  • Emerging concerns regarding hygiene, including dental hygiene.
  • Indication that there is a lack of self-care for young people
  • Emerging speech and language difficulties
  • Emerging concerns around sexual activity and awareness leading to a risk of pregnancy
  • Emerging concerns around mental health and emotional wellbeing e.g., a child seeking support for their wellbeing or thoughts of self-harming
  • Exposure to, or use of, substances which impact on health and development
  • Not reaching educational potential indicating that learning needs require assessment or school-based support.
  • Struggling to engage in learning such as poor concentration, low motivation and interest.
  • School attendance remains largely stable but there is occasional non-attendance and emerging poor punctuality.
  • Some difficulties with peer relationships e.g., concerns about child being bullied or inappropriate responses /actions towards peers, difficulties sustaining  relationships.
  • Disrupted attachment due to parent or child factors leading to the child being overly friendly or withdrawn with strangers.
  • Emerging difficulties with behaviour management and reports of being disruptive at home and / or in school
  • Some insecurities around identity expressed e.g., the child maybe questioning their gender or sexual identify, have low self-esteem, etc.

Family/Environment Factors

  • Reduced access to stimulation such as books or toys.
  • Children with adoption in their journey, children cared for under a Special Guardianship order or Child Arrangement Orders where there are emerging vulnerabilities within the family dynamic.
  • Family struggling to accept child’s self-identity.
  • Some exposure to dangerous situations in the home or community including access to age-inappropriate online activity.
  • Becoming involved in behaviour that is seen as anti-social (low-level)
  • Child and family appear to be isolated in the community.
  • Parents/Carers stressed due to overworking or unemployment.
  • Poor debt management or allocation of resources that impact on the child.
  • Lack of take-up of benefits and available resources
  • Home in poor state of repair, or temporary overcrowding or deteriorating home conditions.
  • Child is not able to access the full range of family relationships e.g., bereavement, separation, parental imprisonment.

Parental Capacity

  • Parents/Carers beginning to default on appointments for the unborn, child or young person or for themselves e.g., missed ante-natal appointments, development checks, dental checks, ophthalmology.
  • Inconsistent in meeting the needs of the child or young person
  • Parents/Carers history beginning to impact on care of own children
  • Parents/Carer requires advice on parenting issues
  • Parents/Carers stressors starting to affect ability to ensure child’s safety
  • Emerging attachment difficulties from parent/carer to child
  • Emerging parent/carer mental health difficulties that impact on the child’s routine. 
  • Chronic disability, ill-health or terminal illness of a child or parent/carer meaning the child is undertaking some caring responsibilities e.g., indications that  the child is a young carer.