Families First News

Learning & development

Local Families First Practice Forums

Facilitated by Families First Partnerships & Development Team

A Families First Practice Forum is a facilitated session in each district which provides practitioners with an opportunity to share learning and increase confidence and ability in using Families First and EHM processes. It also provides an opportunity to have face to face individual case discussion with your Senior Coordinator regarding any enquiries about any family you are working with, open to a Families First Assessment or not, and will support and advise you on how to progress these cases.

The next sessions of Local Practice Forums will be held during the week of 16 September 2019 and will focus on Starting a Families First Assessment, the Families First Process and individual case discussion.

Booking is easy – Simply,  email FFPracticeForum@hertfordshire.gov.uk to confirm your attendance and remember to tell us the district and date that you would like to attend. You can also register any request for case discussions through this email, adding the district you work within as the subject heading.

Please follow the link below for further details including dates, venues and themes planned for the Families First Forums.


Families First Practice Forums


Families First Practice and Early Help Module (EHM) system training

Duration: Full day from 9:30am to 4:00pm

Families First Practice and EHM system training is a full day training that incorporates Families First tools, Practice Standards, Guidance and EHM system.

This course is aimed at practitioners who will initiate Families First Assessments (FFA) and/or undertake a keyworker role for a family. Delegates attending this course will gain an understanding and overview of Families First principles in Hertfordshire, Families First Practice Standards, pathways and tools, including when and how to complete a Families First Assessment (FFA), using EHM system to effectively record and evidence support for family, undertaking the keyworker role and coordinating an effective Team Around the Family (TAF) and ongoing system and practice support for practitioners.

We have spaces available on the following date

Robertson House

24th September 2019

Robertson House

21st October 2019

Robertson House

15th November 2019

Robertson House

29th November 2019

Robertson House

6th December 2019


To book a place on this training Click Here

Workforce Development Update

Families first logo

Families First partners are working together to design a new and exciting workforce development offer, aimed at developing skills and knowledge across the range of Families First partners to support with embedding the Families First delivery model in Hertfordshire.

As part of this work we are exploring the opportunity of opening up the Children’s Service Learning and Development Team training programme, available to all HCC Children’s Services staff and partners. Initially, we will be offering out space to partners free of charge for upcoming courses where there are spaces still available, giving a minimum of a week’s notice.

We will be communicating these training opportunities via the Familiesfirst.support@hertfordshire.gov.uk mailbox (email us if you aren't on our partners list yet!).

A list of the L&D training programmes on offer can be found below.


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.

The Learning Hub in October 2019 is on the theme of neglect, and this newsletter provides key information about evidence and initiatives in Hertfordshire. It is not intended to provide a comprehensive overview, but it aims to stimulate discussion about the issues, what is working well locally and what could be improved.

There are 5 locations to choose from across Hertfordshire and more information can be viewed here.

Spaces are limited to 45 delegates per venue, so make sure you book your place early if you wish to attend, particularly for the hub on the 11th October where we have secured national expert Dr Claudia Banard who will be speaking about her work on neglect in affluent families.


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:

  • Tuesday 22nd October
  • 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.


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 3rd October 2019
  • 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:

  • Tuesday 15th October 2019
  • Thursday 7th November 2019
  • 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.



Caring Dads Courses

Upcoming Caring Dads courses are as follows:

Stevenage 2019

Scheduled start Autumn / Winter 2019 term

Broxbourne / Hatfield 2019

Possible start early 2020 - depending on venue / funding

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

HACRO’s Caring Dads office is only open when I am working which is usually 2 days per week. I normally work Monday and Thursday but with bank holidays this can be variable. There is no ‘out of office’ email message facility. The office answerphone will announce when the office will next be open.

Best Regards, Joanna

Domestic Abuse Skills Training


Bespoke Training

The Families First Partnership Practice and Development Team are happy to be able to offer Bespoke Training to all Practitioners supporting Families through a Families First Assessment, be it as a Key Worker or TAF Member, in your own setting. They are able to offer Key Worker Lite Bites for those leading on FFA’s that would like a refresher on the process or support with EHM System, including managing Notifications, writing the Assessment, going through the TAF Review process, adding Case Notes and TAF Members and Closures. Everything a Key Worker needs to know. They also offer TAF Member Training for those that are not Key Workers but will benefit from knowing how to use the EHM System to evidence the support that they are offering the family including adding Case Notes and Documents, knowing how to access and send alerts and how to be a productive and active member of the Team around the Family and the Families First process. Additionally the team are here to support you with all of your FFA and EHM needs and we are happy to discuss the needs of your service and adapt any bespoke session to meet your needs, so please do contact your Your Local senior or Families First Coordinator to discuss how they can support you in your own setting at a date and time convenient to you. Please click her to request a bespoke training session Keyworker Litebite Training or TAF Member Training.


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.

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