Families First News

The latest news

Help us improve Hertfordshire’s Families First portal

There is currently work underway to develop our Families First portal for both professionals and parent/carers to enhance the directory of resources and content.

What is Families First?

Families First is the term used in Hertfordshire for services that work together to support families who need extra help. These are also known as early help services.

We all experience difficulties at some point. Families First can help you find early help and information to prevent issues from getting worse.

Who is it for?

Families First is available to all Hertfordshire families with children under 18 (25 if they have a learning need or disability).

What are we trying to do?

We want to develop an online offer which provides you with a range of information and resources on topics such as youth crime and mental health.

A part of this work also includes understanding your experience of making a referral to Hertfordshire’s Children’s Services, if applicable.

How can you help?

In order to support this work, we have developed a short survey. The survey is anonymous and any information which may identify you or your child/young person will be anonymised during analysis.

We are also looking for people that might be interested in being involved in this piece of work through focus groups or similar so, at the end of the survey, if you would like to be involved there is the option to leave your personal details.

The survey will be open until Friday 09 October 2020.

You can access the survey at: https://surveys.hertfordshire.gov.uk/s/SOPW8P/

Thank you for your time.


SEND - A Practitioners Toolkit

The SEND Transformation Team are putting together a practical tool to help early help professionals navigate SEND information and support, and subsequently strengthen SEND support within universal services and targeted services. It has been co-produced with professionals from a range of services across health, education and social care, together with parent /carer representatives from HPCI.

The toolkit can be currently be viewed here - and will soon be available on the Families First Portal. In the meantime, please take a look and pass any feedback to : SENDTransformation@hertfordshire.gov.uk

You may also be interested in the latest edition of SEND News which has a feature on returning to school .

Healthy Weight Service for CYPs

Beezee Bodies are commissioned by Hertfordshire County Council to run the children’s and young people’s healthy weight service.

Below are the highlights of the service they provide, more information and the referral process can be found at their Asset Bank:-

BZ Families

  • 14-week programme
  • 1 hour of nutrition topics (snacks, breakfast, portion size) and goal setting with families each week
  • 1 hour physical activity with local sport coaches (whole family encouraged to take part)

Brief Intervention – 1-1 support

  • Face to face or online
  • 1:1 appointment with healthy lifestyle specialist, support families making changes, building healthy habits, nutrition and physical activity advice.
  • Family will leave 1:1 appointment with knowing what to change and how to change it.


  • 8-week programme for under 5’s in Herts Valley
  • Each session lasts for 2 hours, and includes some family time where we play games, and some parent time, where we discuss healthy lifestyle topics.
  • Create long-term healthy habits for families, discussing topics such as nutrition, emotional wellbeing, parenting skills and getting more active. 

Healthy family training for professionals

  • Professionals invited to attend face to face or online training workshops.
  • Topic example: raising the issue training (how to bring up child’s weight to parents)
  • We would like feedback from professionals on the types of training they would like to receive from us.


  • For professionals and families to come together to learn about various topics; fussy eating, conflict resolution, getting active.


The Kickstart Scheme

The Kickstart Scheme is a new initiative to support 16-24 year olds into work. It has recently been launched by the Government.

Any size and type of organisation that employs people can offer young people, claiming Universal Credit, a six-month work placement that will be paid for by government. The Kickstart Scheme will be delivered by the Department for Work and Pensions and will initially be open until December 2021, with the option of being extended.

Kickstart Scheme jobs must be new and of good quality. Government will pay 100% of the age-relevant National Minimum Wage, National Insurance and pension contributions for 25 hours a week.

Employers will be able to top up this wage, while the Government will also pay employers £1500 to set up support and training for people on a Kickstart Scheme placement, as well as helping pay for uniforms and other set up costs.

More information for employers is available on GOV.UK.

Supporting Young People

The Department for Work & Pensions know that young people are more likely to have been furloughed, with many working in sectors disproportionately hit by the pandemic. The Kickstart Scheme is an opportunity to build their skills in the workplace. This will improve their chances of finding long-term work.

Young people will be referred to these new roles via their Jobcentre Plus work coach. The first ‘Kickstarts’ are expected to begin at the start of November.

If your organisation is not in a position to directly take part, you can still support young people by helping to spread the word.

The Department for Work & Pensions have produced a range of support material and A Guide for Employers.

They have also created a special page for young people on the jobhelp website. 

The Kickstart Scheme for smaller employers

To help smaller businesses and employers offering fewer than 30 placements, there will be a way to bid via an intermediary or representative of a group of employers. These intermediaries can then bid on behalf of groups of employers.

You can find out how this will work here Guidance for representatives of employers.

Plan for jobs

The Kickstart Scheme was announced in July as part of the Government’s Plan for Jobs. This includes doubling the number of frontline Work Coaches to 27,000 and an Expanded Youth Offer to support 18-24 year olds. The Department for Work & Pensions are also increasing participation in the sector-based work academy programme, aiming to support 40,000 placement jobseekers to get the right skills for the roles that are on offer.

Find out more information at the Plan for Jobs webpage.

Managing Money Made simple - for parents

A free only course that makes managing money simple - this free zoom online course may be useful to families that you are working with. For more information and registration please visit:-  https://tinyurl.com/CAPmoneycourse

Register here: - https://tinyurl.com/CAPmoneycourse

Covid Messages in Non-English Languages

GPs and other professionals at the CCG have created some non-English language videos in order to help increase awareness about social distancing, hand washing and testing.

These can all be viewed on our HCC YouTube channel in the following languages:

Dr Ash Shah – Gujarati

Dr Rupal Shah – Urdu/Hindi

Dianne Desmulie – Italian

Iris Cheung – Cantonese

Dr Gurpreet Singh – Punjabi

Dorota – Clinical Pharmacist – Polish

Magdalena Zuwala – Health Care Assistant – Polish

Bengali - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSUdVSuNXiU&feature=youtu.be

Sylheti – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBXP3xhlI9k

Urdu - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXDC6ozl8Hk

In addition, members of our BAME Community across Hertfordshire have kindly put together a series of videos, in a range of languages, to share social distancing advice. It also highlights the importance of finding ways to look after our mental health as well as our physical health.

Domestic abuse – tell us what you see when you’re at work

Because we know anyone can experience domestic abuse, we also know they can seek help in many different ways.

This is why we want to understand more about domestic abuse from those working in people-facing professions, because you are often the people that could spot the signs.

You are being sent this anonymous survey because you work in a role where you might come across victims or perpetrators of domestic abuse.

Questions will be about your professional experience of domestic abuse, including what you’ve seen and how you’ve responded to suspected or confirmed cases of domestic abuse in the past. This will help us to improve services and support for victims of domestic violence or abuse.

To complete this survey, please visit: https://surveys.hertfordshire.gov.uk/s/DAprofessional/ or scan this code with your smartphone or tablet.


Prevent - Resources

Please find below some Prevent information and support available to both schools and parents/carers.

These resource documents have come from Votes4Schools, co-produced by Counter Terrorism Policing and have been endorsed by the Home Office.

Talking at Home about Extremism - Primary

Talking at Home about Extremism - Secondary



Library resources and advice for online homework

Do the families you work with worry about internet safety or have difficulty with completing online homework? The Library Service can help! We have fantastic resources for homework help and regularly share advice on internet safety. Being a library member gives you access to a massive range of online encyclopaedias in our Reference library online – perfect for homework assignments. I would like to highlight two:

  • Britannica Online – the online version of Encyclopaedia Britannica. It includes the great feature in that you can select the level of detail according to your age group. They have three levels: Junior (for age 6-10), Student (10-15) and Adult (for age 15+).
  • Credo Reference – a database of hundreds of encyclopaedias, dictionaries, thesauri including articles, images, audio files and videos. Just type in your topic and have easy access to a huge range of articles

To find these great resources and more, visit our Reference library online .

If hyperlink isn’t suitable please use this text:
To find these great resources and more, visit www.hertfordshire.gov.uk, select Libraries and Archives, Books and Online Reference and then Reference Library Online.

If you know families that are concerned about internet and app safety, we can highlight organisations and websites that help keep them informed and feel more confident:

  • Net Aware https://www.net-aware.org.uk/ - this site from NSPCC and O2 reviews the most popular and up-to-date apps, games and social media sites that children are using. Parents and carers can learn essential information, what to look out for, and Net Aware provides ratings for risks including sexual, violence and hatred, bullying, suicide and self-harm and drink, drugs and crime
  • Thinkuknow https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/ - this CEOP site breaks advice down according to age groups: age 4-7, 8-10, 11-13 and 14+ years. Advice is tailored to adults as well as directly to the child and includes helpful videos and games
  • BBC Own It App – an app to support digital wellbeing. This app includes a downloadable keyboard that can provide advice in real time to children, for example if a child is about to share a phone number or email address, the app will ask them if they really want to do this.

I hope you have found this information useful, library resources and advice are regularly featured on our social media so follow us @hertslibraries on Facebook and Twitter and visit our website for more information or to get in contact.

The “Operation Sustain” Offer – we’re here for you!

As we move into the second phase of the COVID 19 pandemic HCC will continue to support vulnerable residents of Hertfordshire under “Operation Sustain.” This service will continue to be accessed through HertsHelp (HH) who will triage clients’ needs making appropriate referrals or signposting to relevant support services.

Our offer includes:

  • Volunteer support (including shopping, medication collection, befriending, dog walking) via the Community Help Hertfordshire (CHH) service model under which all the Hertfordshire CVS organisations who have come together to provide a unified response to support people in need.  This network will also act as a support and co-ordinator for smaller but important community groups including mutual aid groups, foodbanks and good neighbour schemes, assisting with organisational development and fund raising.
  • Hertfordshire Community Navigation Service (HCNS) which aims to improve health and wellbeing by supporting those vulnerable service users in their own homes and in moving from hospital to home, using Community Navigators and Link Workers and the HCNS Pathway which is built into the overall social prescription pathway.
  • A broadened Crisis Intervention Service
    • HertsHelp will deliver a crisis intervention service for people in crisis to include food, energy costs and other essentials for those who are in ongoing crisis or who have come into crisis as a result of COVID 19.
    • There is also the HERT (Hertfordshire Economic Recovery Team) partnership where HCC’s Money Advice Unit (MAU) and Citizens Advice Hertfordshire (CAH) have come together to enhance the finance, welfare benefits and debt management advice already available in Hertfordshire to vulnerable residents who have been most affected by the COVID-19 crisis, to aid their financial recovery and embed future financial security and literacy, complementing the work done by financial inclusion workers in District and Borough Housing teams, especially regarding complex cases.

 To access all of these services call HertsHelp on 0300 123 4044, visit www.hertshelp.net or email info@hertshelp.net

Mental Health & Emotional Wellbeing Support

With mental health being one of the predicted areas where we will see an increase in presenting needs, we have set out below some very useful links which we have received from the Families First partnerships.

Supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing during coronavirus – Information for professionals

Looking after your mental health and wellbeing during Coronavirus - Information for Children and Young People

Schools and Families Advice Line (SFAL): The ‘Schools and Families Advice Line’ (SFAL) is a new service established to provide emotional wellbeing advice and early help to children and young people, families and schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. More information can be found here

The new JUST TALK website provides a host of useful information to YP families and professionals during COVID 19: https://www.justtalkherts.org/just-talk-herts.aspx

Healthy Young Minds in Herts: The below website has a Professionals, Schools, Parents/ Carers and Young Persons section. Information on emotional health and wellbeing support available for children and young people in Hertfordshire for school staff. https://www.healthyyoungmindsinherts.org.uk/    NOTE The schools section requires log in details

View the latest CAMHS bulletin here


YC Hertfordshire Services for Young People provides youth work, information, advice, guidance, work related learning and support for young people. Although face-to-face work is currently suspended, you can still contact a Youth Worker or Personal Adviser for one to one and project groupwork support by calling 0300 123 7538, emailing yc@hertfordshire.gov.uk or visit https://www.ychertfordshire.org/

Supporting schools and colleges booklet - the Anna Freud Centre: This free booklet provides advice and guidance for school staff about how to help children and young people manage their mental health and wellbeing during times of disruption to their learning.

Chathealth School Nursing texting service and the Health for Teens website. As part of our remaining services, during the Covid -19 pandemic, Chathealth offers support, advice and guidance to 11-19 year olds. They can text us from 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday and a School Nurse is operating the line during those times and they will get a response on that day, usually within the hour.

The OLLIE Foundation is a charity dedicated to delivering suicide awareness, intervention and prevention training by empowering professionals and young adults in their own communities to lead suicide prevention activities.

BOUNCE FORWARD - are holding regular sessions for parents to build vital skills to help their children be more resilient during this uncertain time. To book visit: https://bounceforward.com/raising-resilience-free-session/

Mind in Mid Herts: Are now able to offer FREE living well courses to the people of Hertfordshire via zoom. You do not need to be an existing service user or be diagnosed with a mental health problem to access- anyone can attend. More information and if you would like to refer someone please click this link to book on:


Herts Mind Network: Please see the current timetable and support services for anyone struggling with their mental health.

Their free one to one Peer Support service is also operating via telephone not face to face.

They have offices in Letchworth, Borehamwood, Watford, Hemel, Waltham Cross, Bishops Stortford and Borehamwood. They offer support to anyone living in Hertfordshire.

Barnet Council have produced a very user friendly "Back to School Guide for parents, carers and guardians" which could be very useful for supporting anxiety in getting children back to school.

Mental Health Services - contact numbers

The wide range of support for people who have mental health concerns includes:

· Herts Help – a signposting and advice service which can help direct people to the right support - 0300 123 4044 or email info@hertshelp.net
· Hertfordshire Mind Network crisis helpline – 01923 256 391
· NHS HPFT’s Single Point of Access - for people in a mental health crisis who live in Hertfordshire - 0300 777 0707 from 8am – 7pm, 01438 843322 out of hours or email: hpft.spa@nhs.net
· Samaritans - 116 123, 24 hours a day, every day
· The national NHS ‘Every Mind Matters’ website has expert advice and practical tips for people experiencing anxiety, low mood and sleep problems - https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/

We hope you find these resources useful in supporting the families you work with.

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