Social Care

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Early Help

About the Family Support Service

The Family Support Service (FSS) provides a wide range of support to children and young people aged 0 to 19, or up to 25 with a special educational need or disability, and their families in Buckinghamshire. This support includes information, advice and guidance through the Family Information Service (BFIS), open access sessions and health services for early years children and parents/carers and a range of targeted and drop-in sessions for young people at a network of 16 Family Centre’s across the county.

The centres offer a range of support for children, young people and families. Families can drop in to speak with a professional about concerns they might have anytime during the week at our three Family Centre Plus sites: Mapledean (Wycombe), Chesham Newtown and Southcourt (Aylesbury). Families can find out more about Family Centre information and advice drop-in here. There are a wide range of activities available to families run by the FSS and partners at family centres which are free for children, young people and families. Local timetables can be found on the BFIS web pages.

The Service is there for the whole family, not just children but for parents and young people too.

The service can provide support to families and individuals through group work to support with parenting, young people’s groups on topics such as wellbeing, employability or support from a dedicated Family Worker for families and individuals who are facing more complex challenges. The Family Support Service does not provide whole-family support when a child or young person is open to statutory Children’s Services, but if specific support is needed (for example parenting, one-to-one youth support or early years support at family centre sessions), this can be requested.

The Service has been carefully designed to provide high quality targeted support for vulnerable families who face a range of issues or more complex challenges. The service provides one-to-one support to families and individuals in a setting that is most comfortable to them, like their home, a local community setting or somewhere else. Families can refer themselves to the service or may be supported by a school, health or other professionals who will make a referral on their behalf. We work collaboratively with families and professionals to ensure that the agreed family plan is supported by all involved with agreed actions and outcomes. As we are a consent-based service, professionals must work with families to ensure they give their informed consent before a referral for support is made.

To understand the thresholds of support within Buckinghamshire please make use of the Continuum of Need (incorporating Threshold Guidance), a brief overview of which is given below.

Early Help in Buckinghamshire is a partnership approach with a wide range of agencies and organisations contributing to a broad early help offer. Services and organisations, including schools, should work collaboratively to identify the most appropriate support for families. The council provision is through the integrated Family Support Service which provides a wide range of support to children, young people, and families in Buckinghamshire.

Avenues of support which FSS co-ordinate or provide to schools as part of early help provision to support children, young people and families:

  • Can you support the child and their family through your own service? Or can you signpost to another service?
    If you want to signpost parents to find some help or advice then check the Buckinghamshire Family Information Service (BFIS) website: or contact the BFIS duty team on 01296 383293. This is also useful information to share with families and young people as an invaluable source of self-support. For more detailed discussions and guidance for staff, view the website or contact your school link worker.
  • Early Help Monthly Partnership Forums

The Early Help Partnership forum is a panel of a variety of support agencies who are on hand to talk things through to make suggestions to other professionals working with a family. The purpose of the Early Help Partnership Forums is to co-ordinate a response when current support work with a family or child is not effecting positive change. Schools can bring children and families for discussion where they are unsure of the support that is needed. For more information, please contact

  • FSS School Link Worker
    Every school in the county has an allocated Family Support Worker within FSS, referred to as the school link worker. This worker will liaise regularly with an identified person within the school. The purpose of this role is to support the school in responding to presenting needs of children early and provide guidance on action and interventions which can support; this could be coordinated by the school, or another identified professional or may need referral for additional FSS support.

    If you are unsure of your link worker, please contact the area team who will be able to confirm and ensure you are in contact with them.

Find out more about the Family Support Service and details of how to make a referral.

The pdf document below provides a clear overview of Early Help support and the Family Support Service, which you my wish to share with all school staff so they are able to support and signpost children, young people and families to the right support at the right time and also highlight the guidance available to them through the school link worker.

FSS Long Leaflet

Print entire guide

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