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Early Help and Family Support in Lambeth


Early Help and Family Support in Lambeth: what is available for you and your family?

Lambeth provides a range of services to give additional help and support to children and young people and their families. The services available include those offered by children’s centres and the Early Help Service. Support with parenting is also available.  The free early learning offers for eligible two year olds, and all three and four year olds, provides additional help for children in the early years.

Early Help and Family Support through Children’s Centres

Lambeth has a network of 23 children’s centres, with an additional four satellite sites. Children’s Centres provide a wide range of services for children aged under five and their families, including:

  • Stay and play activities for children and parents to attend together;
  • Early literacy and family learning activities
  • Family support and support to help you as a parent. This may include outreach and home visiting support
  • Health services such as speech and language therapy, midwifery support, nutrition and weaning advice, and support from health visiting teams
  • Access to adult learning courses such as ESOL classes and classes to help you develop your employability skills
  • Housing, debt, welfare and benefits advice and guidance
  • Support for children with additional needs
  • Children’s centres also offer advice and guidance and can support you to access services that will help you and your family – these include free early learning places and links to local food banks

Some services such as adult learning activities are supported by free crèche provision, and some centres offer childcare for working parents or for children entitled to a free early learning place. A small number of children’s centres offer birth registration appointments.

Children’s centre services are offered free of charge. Some services are open to all children under five and their families, and others are accessible by referral or prior booking.

You can find contact details for your nearest Children's Centre here.

Free Early Learning for Two Year Olds

The Free Early Learning Offer for two year olds is available for all children aged two living with families of a low income. Families living in Lambeth with a two year old are eligible for the offer if they are in receipt of one or more of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income based Job Seekers Allowance
  • Income related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support through Part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act
  • The guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit, with an annual income of £16 190 or less

Two year olds are also eligible if:

  • They are looked after by the local authority
  • They have a current statement of special educational needs or an education, health and care plan
  • They are entitled to Disability Living Allowance
  • They have left care through special guardianship or an adoption or residence order
  • Some discretionary places are also available for families in special circumstances. Your local children’s centre can help you with an application if you think you may be eligible.

Children meeting the above criteria become eligible for a place the term after their second birthday. This means that:

A child born between is eligible from
1 September and 31 December 1 January
1 January and 31 March 1 April
1 April and 31 August 1 September

The place lasts for 570 hours per year, and parents and carers can choose any provider on our two year olds list which is available by clicking on the following links: Childminders, Pre-Schools and Day Nurseries.

The list includes nurseries, childminders and schools which are judged as good or outstanding by Ofsted.

Free Early Learning for Three and Four Year Olds

All three and four year olds are able to access a free early learning place in one of the following settings:

  • State nursery school
  • Private, Voluntary or Independent Sector Nursery
  • Nursery or Reception Class in state primary school
  • Pre – school / Playgroup
  • Children’s Centre Nursery
  • Childminders

Children become eligible the term after their third birthday: the dates for this are the same as for eligible two year olds, and can access up to 570 hours free early learning per year.

Further information on the free early learning offer for three and four year olds is available here. 

Early Help and Support through the Common Assessment Framework (CAF)

The Common Assessment framework (CAF ) is a way of working with children, young people and their families. It involves listening to you and your child to find out about what your needs are and what is working well in your family’s life. The CAF is voluntary – you and your child can choose to be involved.

When is the CAF used?

The CAF can be used if you, or someone who works with your child – such as your GP, health visitor or teacher – thinks you might need some extra support with the needs you identified. Children and young people up to the age of nineteen can receive support through the CAF process, with young people with a disability receiving support through this process until they are twenty five.

How does it work?

A worker asks you and your child some questions to find out what sort of help and support you might need. You and your child agree what is recorded on the assessment form.

We will then agree together what needs to be done to ensure that the right sort of help is put in place for you and your family.

A CAF can be used to refer to different types of services to support you.

Who will see my information?

As a rule this information which you and your child provide will only be shared with your consent. However, there may be certain times when the people working with you need to share information without your consent . For example :

  • To help a child who is at risk of harm
  • When an adult is at risk of harm
  • To help prevent or detect a serious crime

The Early Help Service

The Early Help Service is a multi-disciplinary service which offers swift and easy access to early help for families where there are children or young people (0-25) with special needs. The purpose of this service is to intervene early in order to prevent difficulties becoming significant long-term problems. The service also includes Aspirational Lambeth Families which is part of the National Troubled Families Programme supporting whole families who have a wide range of needs  including

  • Parents or children involved in crime or ant-social behaviour
  • Children who have not been attending school regularly
  • Children who need help : children of all ages, who need help, are identified as in need or are subject to a Child Protection Plan.
  • Adults out of work or at risk of financial exclusion or young people at risk of worklessness.
  • Families affected by domestic violence and abuse
  • Parents or children with a range of health problems

The service aims to overcome these difficulties by working with the whole family intensively supporting them to overcome the difficulties and make changes.

In order to meet these needs the Early Help teams include Early Intervention Social Workers and Early Help Practitioners, NEET advisers, Educational Welfare Team, Employment Advisers and a linked Early Intervention CAMHS Team.

The service consists of area based teams working with children, young people and their families from the age of 0 (or in the antenatal period where need is identified) to 19, and to 24 where the child or young person has a disability. There are a number of ways for children and young people to access the service through CAF/ Early Help Assessments at school or in Children's Centres, referrals from other agencies in the community; through the MASH front door in Children's Services; and through the established 'step down' process from social care.

What does the Early Help Service do? 

Once a referral is received by the service if appropriate the service will offer a range of support including

  • Work directly with the whole families to offer support
  • Signpost the family you to get support from other services or specialist support
  • Work in partnership with other agencies to ensure that there is a joined up approach to help for the family by reducing duplication

Who can contact Early Help? 

Referrals usually come directly from the agencies working with the family, but sometimes families may wish to request assistance directly.

For more information about the Early Help Services or to request support please call the Lambeth Integrated Referral Hub on 0207 926 3100 (pressing option 1 for Early Help). Or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , please address your email to the Early Help Service.

Parenting Support

There are a range of programmes and courses available to help parents and carers develop their parenting skills. These programmes are evidence based, which means they have been well tested and proven to be effective. They are available free of charge and are delivered across Lambeth, in venues such as schools, children’s centres and community venues.

Further information on the range of parenting courses available and ways to access these can be found here.