Families First News

Front page - Welcome

Welcome to our November Newsletter

Welcome to yet another busy edition of Families First News. This autumn, as part of our Workforce Development programme the Development Team have been busy preparing a Learning and Development plan and a Families First "Welcome Pack". These resources will be useful for all partners to get an overview of the Families First way of working and are perfect for new starter induction packs. Find out more on our Workforce Development update.

We have also been busy updating our public portal and we would like to encourage all partners to take the time to check your service is listed on the directory. We are aiming to refresh the landing page for the portal and promote widely to all Hertfordshire families and therefore it essential that it is correct and contains all relative services available. 

Our partnership survey is still live, so if you have not had a chance to complete this please take a minute to answer just a few questions for us to get a snap shot of how well Families First has been embedded across Hertfordshire's early help services.

Be sure also to take a look at YC Hertfordshire's survey which is aiming to find out what young people think about the services available to them and what issues affect them and please pass on to any young people you are working with to complete. 

Don't forget to visit our Learning and Development pages with dates for Teen Brain and Baby's Brain  and other informative training opportunities. Plus also visit our local news pages.

We hope you enjoy the newsletter and find it helpful. Please also encourage your teams to sign up to receive their own copy!

As always, please do let us have your comments and suggestions for what you would like us to include in future editions.

Thank you for reading,

Best wishes from the Families First Development Team

The latest news

Workforce Development Update

Learning and Development Plan

The workforce development workstreams have been working in partnership to continue to develop the Families First workforce development offer. As part of this work we have developed a best practice example of a Learning and Development Plan for staff who are new to Families First, outlining the key things that staff need to know and what tools are available to support with that learning.

Welcome Pack

In addition, our new Welcome Pack is already proving very popular with services wishing to get a better understanding of how to access early help within Hertfordshire, understand the Families First way of working and access the training available. In particular this diagram sets out how we all work together in partnership to achieve better outcomes for families.

Please download the full pack here and promote at your team meetings and include in any new starter induction packs.

Families First workforce development offer

Families First welcome pack

Events and Conferences

We have started planning ahead to 2020 with discussions already taking place around next years' Families First Awards - watch this space for more information on the date and categories and start thinking about the people you feel really deserve recognition for going the extra mile in providing early help to families!

Young People's Survey 2019

A survey to find out what young people think about the services available to them and what issues affect them is taking place this month. 

YC Hertfordshire, Hertfordshire County Council’s targeted youth service, has developed a survey for all young people aged between 11-17, and up to the age of 25 for those with special educational needs.

The aim of the survey is to capture the voices of young people across Hertfordshire to help us ensure that we are delivering valuable, inclusive and relevant services and activities for young people.

We want to find out more from young people about what they want from out-of-school activities, the issues of greatest concern to them, and what we can do better.

This survey has been circulated and marketed to all participating secondary and middle schools and colleges across the county and is also available on all YC Hertfordshire’s social media platforms.

This survey opened on Friday 1st November 2019 for four weeks.

If you know a young person aged 11-17, or up to 25 if they have a special education need, please encourage them to complete the survey through their school, local youth project / group or access the link through YC Hertfordshire’s social media platforms or by emailing yc@hertfordshire.gov.uk.

Please find the link below to access the survey: 


If you have any queries regarding the survey, please contact YC Hertfordshire on yc@hertfordshire.gov.uk or 0300 123 7538.

Check your service is listed on the directory

We are currently undertaking an update of the public portal and we would like to encourage all partners to take the time to check your service is listed on the directory. We are aiming to refresh the landing page for the portal and promote widely to all Hertfordshire families and therefore it essential that it is correct and contains all relative services available. 

If you know of a service that should be listed please email Jemma.Duffell@hertfordshire.gov.uk


Supported by the Transforming SEND team, the SEND Information, Advice and Support Service (SEND IASS) is reviewing its service.

As a professional, whether you have used our service yourself, signposted families to it, or never used it before, we want to hear from you.  We would really appreciate you telling us what you know of the service by filling in this short five-minute survey.  

Stakeholder Survey :       https://surveys.hertfordshire.gov.uk/s/SENDIASSstakeholdersurvey/

Your answers will help us to better meet your needs and those of the families we serve. Please feel free to share with colleagues.
All responses will remain anonymous but to help us analyse the responses, we ask that you tell us which service and organisation you work in.
Thank you for taking part. The closing date for completing the survey is 20th November 2019.


Please don’t hesitate to contact dee.debruin@hertfordshire.gov.uk if you have any queries.

Adverse Childhood Experiences- animated film

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are traumatic events that affect children while growing up, such as suffering child maltreatment or living in a household affected by domestic violence, substance misuse or mental illness.

This short animated film has been developed to raise awareness of ACEs, their potential to damage health across the life course and the roles that different agencies can play in preventing ACEs and supporting those affected by them.

The film has been produced for Public Health Wales and Blackburn with Darwen Local Authority.

For further information visit www.aces.me.uk

Hertfordshire Relationships Matter Roadshows 2019

Join us in our campaign to improve relationships in Hertfordshire, reduce parental conflict and improve outcomes for children.

Email ehcommissioning@hertfordshire.gov.uk to book.

InspireAll wins Lottery Funding for Hertfordshire Families

InspireAll are excited to announce that their recent application for National Lottery Community Funding has been granted to help fund additional Parenting Courses where they are commissioned by Hertfordshire County Council to run services across South and West Hertfordshire.

As a key partner in Hertfordshire’s Family Centre Service, InspireAll plan to offer local families an array of Parenting Courses from January 2020.

The courses on offer will include ‘Parenting Puzzle’, ‘Families Feeling Safe’, ‘About Me’ and ‘Family Toolkit’. The courses are designed to aid parents by offering additional support with parenting skills and emotional well-being for those dealing with challenging behavior that affects daily family life.

In order to facilitate these courses, we will be working with the Local Schools Partnerships (LSPs) and other commissioned services which will enable us to work with children aged 0 – 11 years.

The courses on offer will run throughout 2020 across Hertsmere, Watford and Three Rivers, Dacorum and St Albans and will be funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.

For more information about the service please visit our website www.hertsfamilycentres.org

Caring Dads Course - new date


Caring Dads is devoted to ensuring the safety and well-being of children by working with fathers who are alleged to have abused or neglected their children or exposed them to abuse of their mothers. 

Caring Dads provides a 17-week parenting course for fathers who are in contact with their children or have the expectation of being in contact with them.

It is a cognitive behaviour therapy programme for up to 16 fathers and is delivered by trained facilitators with a background in child development or offender management.

Please note the next 17 week Caring Dads course will be in Stevenage as follows:

Thursday evenings 7 to 9 pm from 31st October 2019 to 27th February 2020 @  MIND in Mid Herts, The Wellbeing Centre, 13 Town Square, Stevenage, SG1 1BP.

Referral form available here

Please call 01727 854727 and ask for Joanna Emerson if you wish to discuss the Caring Dads programme and suitability of possible referrals.

Could you be a Domestic Abuse Community Champion?


If you have a public facing job and could help support your colleagues make referrals or signpost victims of domestic abuse to sources of help and advice we’d love to make you a Lead Domestic Abuse Champion.

The training will help people to understand the different types of domestic abuse, to spot the signs and provide victims with a safe space to let them know where they can receive support and advice.

This is a one-day free training course and the dates are below:

7th November 2019 9.30 coffee and registration for 10am start ending 16.30 pm Welwyn & Hatfield District Council, Welwyn Garden City AL8 6AE

BOOK HERE: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lead-domestic-abuse-champion-tickets-76421668267?aff=ebapi

12 February 2020 9.30 coffee and registration for 10am start ending 16.30pm East Herts District Council Wallfields Pegs Lane Hertford SG13 8EQ

BOOK HERE: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lead-domestic-abuse-champion-tickets-76005583747

Are you up to date with SEND news in Hertfordshire?

There are numerous ways our practitioners and partners can keep abreast of what is happening in SEND services in Hertfordshire.  Did you know about the following avenues you can subscribe to and hear more? We also welcome your stories and updates too.

SEND Twitter:                   https://twitter.com/sendherts 

HAND Facebook:              https://www.facebook.com/hertsadditionalneedsdatabase/

HAND SEND News, soon to be renamed SEND news: https://handsendnews.hertfordshire.gov.uk

Or by emailing localoffer@hertfordshire.gov.uk

If you work with a young person who has a special educational need or disability (SEND) did you know they (or parents/carers) can join HAND, our Hertfordshire Additional Needs Database?

We’ve recently made a number of changes to the database, to improve data quality and strengthen security, and the new electronic HAND card is one of these changes.  The member can view the card on their mobile phone or tablet and it allows the family/young person to access perks and discounts to lots of places for family days out in Hertfordshire. Different places offer different things - for example, some places allow you to 'jump the queue', and others will have reduced entry rates.

If the family already have a physical HAND card, they can continue to use it as they always have. If they don’t yet have a HAND card they can find out more www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/hand

Reminder to notify the Families First Helpdesk when you leave your Role

If you are registered to use EHM, all the details for you to access Early Help Module (EHM) including your email and job title will be connected. If you leave your role, we need to know so that we can deactivate that account on EHM.

In September we had 53 practitioners leave their roles and not notify us.

It is the responsibility of all managers to notify the Families First Helpdesk when a member of staff leaves their position. Please email details to familiesfirstassessment@hertfordshire.gov.uk

If you leave your role and are going to be moving into a new role that requires you to have access to EHM, please ask your new manager to email us with your new details, so we can arrange for your account details to be changed.

Emotional Wellbeing Masterclass - Autumn 2019 Dates


Emotional Wellbeing Masterclass workshops offer a way of supporting parents in Hertfordshire to respond to the mental health and emotional well-being needs of their children. It aims to provide evidence based, early intervention strategies, which focuses on empowering parents to confidently respond to their child’s mental health and emotional well-being needs.

Following the workshop there is an expectation that the learnt strategies are tried and implemented. Additionally the workshop focuses on the parent and child partnership, exploring mental health and emotional well-being needs, providing psycho-education and evidence based early intervention strategies which can then be used to improve your child’s mental health and emotional well-being. 

Parents who have attended the Emotional Wellbeing Masterclass have reported leaving the masterclass feeling empowered to implement the strategies provided in the class and feel they have learnt and are taking away knowledge and understanding to use for improvement in their child’s/young person’s mental health and emotional well-being.

The Parents Masterclass Workshop is for parents only. We are unable to provide a crèche facility at this time, therefore please ensure that you arrange suitable child care when attending the workshop.

Visit the links below to book a place for a parent you are working with.

    Coming Soon! Families First - Your Voice

    As part of our commitment to the voices of children, young people and families we are in the process of setting up a Families First Parent and Carer feedback group. The group will work to provide feedback, offer constructive challenge and input into decision making and planning for future service provision. The feedback will be collated in a variety of ways, from coffee mornings to online testing during website development and our aim is to make it very flexible for parents to have involvement in a way that suits them.

    We have a proposed name of "Families First - Your Voice" and a proposed logo below. Once this group has been set up we would like to prepare a timeline of topics that we can address with families and would welcome any suggestions. Please email familiesfirst.support@hertfordshire.gov.uk if you would like to be involved as this group develops.

    We will update you soon with a link for interested parents to sign up to.

    Parenting Together - Support Programme


    We’re pleased to announce The Parenting Together Programme has been live since 1st July and we’re already receiving a healthy amount of referrals.

    With many parents already starting their interventions and successfully on track to resolving parental conflict, please remember to talk to any parents you are working with about their relationships and continue to consider The Parenting Together Programme to help provide support.

    Want to know more?

    Promotional visits As a frontline practitioner supporting our families, we want to make sure you have all the information you need to help you with parents in conflict. If you think you/your team would benefit from a visit from the Parenting Together team or you would like to nominate a team you think would benefit, please get in touch here.

    Practitioner Training on Parental Conflict This autumn, we will be holding more training days - If you are in the Hertfordshire area click here to book.

    If you are not, please register your interest here for any upcoming dates in your area.


    What is The Parenting Together Programme?

    When conflict between parents is frequent, intense and poorly resolved, it can harm children's’ outcomes – regardless of whether parents are together or separated.

    The risk of conflict between parents is higher at crucial points in family life, such as becoming pregnant, having a baby, a child starting or changing school, or separation and divorce. However, relationship difficulties are often seen as a private matter, and couples tend only to seek help when they are in crisis.

    Who can be referred?

    • Parents who are currently experiencing conflict, this does not include domestic abuse
    • Parents can receive support whether they are together or separated, and they can be already in receipt of any level of support from Children’s Services or other services (e.g. open to social care)
    • Parents will be able to access the programmes in community locations and can be supported with childcare and travel costs if needed.Any practitioner supporting families in Hertfordshire, Essex, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, Buckinghamshire or Southend can make a referral.Using the link below, sign up to The Parenting Together newsletter to make sure you are accessing the most up-to-date referral forms and receiving any new updates relating to the programme. Here you will also find the ‘make a referral’ tab which includes a full step-by-step guide on how to fill in your questionnaires and send them into the team. https://www.parentingtogethersupportprogramme.org.uk/ What are the interventions available? For high level conflict:
    • Eligible parents will be able to access one of four new evidence based programmes; the level and type of intervention depends on the parents’ situation and the level of conflict:
    • For any queries regarding the programme, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at parentingtogether@hertfordshire.gov.uk or call on 01992 555172.
    • How can I make a referral?
    • Who can make a referral?


    Preparing for Baby

    The "Preparing for baby course" is delivered jointly by Family Support services, Midwives and Health Visitors. These are the key people to offer support through pregnancy, birth and early years. Please promote with your families.

    The booking link is: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/hct-20041788297


    Flyer available HERE

    A quick survey for partners...

    We would like to take a snap-shot of how the Families First way of working has been embedded across Hertfordshire's early help services and our partners, so can we please ask you to take the time to complete our brief survey and to also pass this survey on to your colleagues/teams and partners that work within the early help services to complete themselves.

    Also if your service attends the Families First Partnership Group meetings, there is a short second survey to get your views on the benefits of these meetings..

    Learning & development

    Space Herts - Courses 2020

    SPACE are pleased to announce that they have 3 training courses available for your consideration for your parent/carers/areas for 2020.

    The courses are:

    ADHD parent/carers skills building  - licensed by the ADHD Foundation

    Sleep Tight - Accredited by the Children's Sleep Charity 

    Navigating the SEND World  - Copy righted and Intellectual property of SPACE 

    Techsafe - 3 Day App Camp

    The optimum number of participants for each course is 15 attendees per course.

    If you would like further information and/or costings for the above courses, please contact us at spaceherts@gmail.com.

    Supporting families in Hertfordshire 

    Autism • ADHD • Related Conditions


    HSCP Learning Hub

    The HSCP Learning Hub is an important two-way feedback loop between front line practitioners and the Strategic Safeguarding Partnership/Board, ensuring learning on priority local issues is shared and acted on at all levels in a timely way.

    Our ACEs Awareness courses are currently fully booked, but new dates will be announced soon.


    My Baby's Brain - new dates

    My Baby’s Brain: five to thrive

    Hertfordshire County Council's My Baby's Brain: five to thrive one-day training aims to equip practitioners, who work with parents of children aged 0-3,  with an understanding of how brain development happens in babies and children, and how they can help parents, children and babies to form strong attachments that will encourage healthy development.

    Training is available on the following dates: 

    Thursday 14th November 2019
    Tuesday 3rd December 2019
    Thursday 16th January 2020

    If you work with parents of young children in Hertfordshire, and would like to book on please book here.


    My Baby’s Brain: Vulnerability, Trauma and Recovery

    My Baby's Brain recognises that parents need to be able to respond, physiologically engage, relax, play and talk. However many parents, for a range of reasons, are not able to do all or any of these activities.

    This additional training day will primarily look at vulnerability, toxic stress, trauma and recovery but also incorporate elements of secondary trauma. This training is available for practitioners who work with parents of children aged 0-3 and have already completed My Baby’s Brain: five to thrive.

    The next set of training dates available are:

    Thursday 23rd January 2020
    Tuesday 4th February  2020

    If you have already completed the one day My Baby’s Brain training and work with higher need families and would like to book on one of the above dates please book here.

    My Teen Brain - new dates

    My Teen Brain focuses on a key stage of brain development and shows how changes in the adolescent brain, in conjunction with experience and environment, can affect emotions, relationships, behaviours, sleep and attitudes to risk.  

    The initiative aims to raise awareness and provide practical information and strategies to professionals. Through training and a range of resources, the initiative will enable them to support young people through this time of change.

    Professionals working with either young adolescents (10-14) are invited to attend a free one-day multi-agency training which will look at changes to the adolescent brain, risks and behaviours and how the learning can help a strength based approach to practice.

    Dates available are:

    • Wednesday 13th November
    • Thursday 14th November
    • Wednesday 15th January
    • Thursday 16th January

    You can book onto the free one-day training here.

    More Information on the changes that take place in the teen brain is available on our dedicated website www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/myteenbrain.


    Handy Hints for EHM

    • Registration Forms

    Always complete forms for registering as a new user for EHM or for registering a family for an FFA or Short-Term Work directly from the Families First Portal. These forms are regularly updated, and older forms may not include all the information we require to be able to complete registration. Families First Portal

    • EHM How to Guides

    There are several How to Guides on the Families First Portal that will guide you through every task you need to complete when you are the keyworker for an open Families First Episode. The guides are step by step and include screen shots to help you to check you are in the correct pathways within EHM. They are password protected and you will need to enter Hertfordshire when you want to access them. They can be found on the Families First Portal

    In the documents within Families First Assessment and Early Help Module section. These are regularly updated as the system is upgraded so please only use the latest versions.                                                                

    • Section B of Families First Assessment

    Please remember that this part of the assessment is needs led, therefore you only answer yes to one of the sections if there is an identified need. There is room for you to record strengths or protective factors further on in the assessment within the outcomes section. 

    • Toggling within the Families First Assessment

    It is essential that the “yes” “no” questions within section B of the Families First Assessment are toggled before you answer yes or no to any needs. This is because data is gathered from this area and we need to be clear that we are reporting the correct number of people with these level of needs within the correct age groups in Hertfordshire.

    For example:                  

    1. If you have identified that a young person within the family is a young carer then you would need to toggle first, separate the young person before answering yes to them and giving detail of their caring role. You would answer No to remaining family members
    2. If you have identified that one of the parents within the family has some concerns around drug or alcohol misuse then you would need to toggle first, separate the parent before answering yes to that parent and giving details of the concerns. You would answer No to remaining family members.

    A how to guide for Toggling are available on the Families First Portal.

    •   Updating Consent

    When you want to add another practitioner to the Families First Episode as a TAF member or so that you can transfer the episode to them, you will need to update the consent statement. There is a How to Guide - Adding a TAF member to an open Families First Episode to guide through this process step by step.

    • General Note Alerts

    At times you may see a General Note Alert appear in your work tray for a family that you are keyworker for. This will have been generated by our Customer Service Centre, Triage team or Families First Coordinators where a new concern has been raised by someone regarding a family you are working with/open FFA or short-term work. These teams record their work within general notes and the EHM system will automatically notify the keyworker by default. If you are concerns about an alert, please contact your local Families First Coordinator.

    Keyworkers that are not a Hertfordshire County Council employee will not be expected to act upon this alert unless they are contacted directly via a telephone call or email from their local Families First Coordinators.

    We would recommend that you remove these alerts from you work tray by clicking on the task and then clicking on alert completed.

    Please note that once you close or transfer a Families First Episode these alerts will remain in your work tray until you complete them. You MUST complete alerts and you MUST NOT access the case once you have closed or transferred it.

    A how to guide for Managing Your Work tray are available on the Families First Portal .

    •  Families First Practice Forums

    Your Senior Families First Coordinators facilitate local Families First Practice Forums in every district every half term. These are free to attend and are for keyworkers, TAF members and local Practitioners supporting TAF through Families First Assessments, Graded Care Profile or Short-term work. Dates, venues and how to book a place can be found here Families First Practice Forums

    • EHM Not Working

    If you experience any difficulties with logging into EHM, please can you contact the Families First Helpdesk on 01438 737575 and report this immediately. If they are unable to help you to log- in, they will be able to report it to SERCO who will investigate.

    • EHM system support

    The Families First Helpdesk can offer telephone support with all EHM queries relating to Families First Assessments or Short-Term Work. Please call 01438 737575. Open hours are Monday – Friday 91m – 5pm and Friday 9am – 4.30pm.

    • Advice on concerns regarding a child/family, including open Families First Episodes

    If you have any concerns about a child/family, including where there is an open Families First Assessment, you can discuss these concerns with your Senior Families First Coordinator who will be able to advise you about the correct next steps to take. This could include any changes in the family’s circumstances, escalation of needs, complex families, non-engagement, who to invite to a TAF, how to get our targeted and intensive teams involved etc.

    Please contact your Senior or Families First Coordinator directly, do not call the Customer Service Centre with these concerns as this will cause a delay in the response to you.



    Shadowing made simple!

    Workforce Shadowing is an exciting opportunity to "spend a day in someone else’s shoes" and is open to the entire Families First partnership. 

    Accessing the Workforce Shadowing scheme has been simplified into 3 easy steps:

    1. Choose your shadowing opportunity from this list (on the Families First Portal)
    2. Simply send an email to FamiliesFirst.Shadowing@hertfordshire.gov.uk  copying in your manager to indicate their support of your application
    1. Get shadowing!

    Could your service host shadowing?
    If you would like to offer a shadowing opportunity within your organisation:

    1. Nominate a contact in your team
    2. Email Shadowing@hertfordshire.gov.uk and we will be in touch.

    WFD logo USE

    Difference we're making

    Evidencing the Impact of Early Help

    FOR DOWNLOAD: FF logo colourAnalysis carried out in 2019 has suggested that:

    • That Investment in Early help services continues to provide substantial cost avoidance for the public sector

    • The smallest change to funding for Early Help services will have a significant impact on local authority spend associated with an increased social care demand.

    What we did

    54 cases were randomly selected to be audited, The criteria being that the families had to have been post intervention by at least 18 months. Out of the 54 cases only 27 contained enough data to enable a robust analysis. All the evidence within this report is based on these 27 cases.

    View the full report

    Local area news

    Watford and Hemel H: Positive Minds: Empower

    Positive Minds; Empower is a FREE 12-week Physical Activity Wellbeing Programme offering mental health focused physical activity through a variety of sports in Watford and Hemel Hempstead.

    During Positive Minds; Empower there will be an hour long physical activity session, followed by 30 minutes of ‘wellbeing workshop’ where participants complete activities with a focus of mental wellbeing.

    Full flyer available HERE

    Participants will be referred onto Empower through parents and guardians, schools, family and support workers, healthcare professionals and existing local children services. All referrals must be sent to ryan.gunn@watfordfc.com

    Referral form available HERE


    Spectrum Hatfield Drug & Alcohol Open Day

    We would like to invite you to join us at our drug and alcohol open day on Thursday 28th November from 2.00 – 4.00pm at St Martins House, 14 The Common, Hatfield, AL10 0UR.

    Want to learn about the treatment we offer to people with drug or alcohol problems in Hatfield, Welwyn, St Albans and Borehamwood? Or perhaps you’d like to meet our staff in person for the first time or tour the facilities?

    This is a great opportunity to ask us any questions you have, get a feel for the service, hear from people who have achieved recovery with our support and take home practical harm reduction advice.

    If you’d like to attend please rsvp to sam.larkin@cgl.org.uk

    The event is open to both professionals and members of the public, including family and carers.

    Any questions please don’t hesitate to let us know.

    Full flyer available HERE

    Intensive Family Support Team Network Meeting and Families First Practice Forum

    Broxbourne: YC Hertfordshire - projects and programmes for young people

    View details the projects, programmes and opportunities available to young people through YC Hertfordshire for this Autumn

    You can also find information on the Healthy Relationships Programme now open for referrals with delivery starting this month.

    Also the Supporting You Emotional Wellbeing Programme is now open for referrals with delivery starting this month.

    Also you can find out more about the Supporting You is a 7 week referral programme, aimed at young people aged 11-18yrs who are beginning to show very early signs of distress due to anxiety or low mood but who are not receiving support elsewhere such as CAMHS

    Download a copy of the leaflet below:-

    Agencies, families or young people can self-refer via the YC Hertfordshire website

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