Assessment Guidance

Discussion points to consider in each assessment domain

Below are some discussion points to facilitate the conversation with families about their needs in section 2 and 3 of the assessment. It is not intended as a script but as a guide to approaching wider issues. In each section practitioners should focus on the families’ strengths and consider how to manage the risk of support needs escalating.

Early Help Assessment Form (word 173KB)

Practitioners are reminded that other professionals can contribute to this assessment.  So where more relevant professionals are involved it might be requested that they complete particular parts of the assessment.  This approach also helps utilise the expertise within multi agency teams by asking for support and guidance on sections of the assessment which are not their 'usual' area of work.

Outlined below are the sub headings from the assessment to support practitioners to fully understand the types of information which might be discussed under each of the headings. 

Early Help - Education  screenshot

Understanding, reasoning and problem solving – the ability to understand and organise information, reason and solve problems. Also includes consideration of:

  • the impact of any disability or impairment, or special needs, and of any potential for these outcomes
  • making connections through the senses and movement, finding out about the environment and other people, becoming playfully engaged and involved, making patterns, comparing, categorising, classifying
  • being creative; exploring and discovering; experimenting with sound; other media and movement; developing competence and creativity; being resourceful
  • being imaginative, imitating, mirroring, moving, imagining, exploring and re‑ enacting, playing imaginatively with materials using all the senses, pretend play with gestures and actions, feelings and relationships, ideas and words 
  • exploring, experimenting and playing, discovering that one thing can stand for another, creating and experimenting with one’s own symbols and marks, recognising that others may use marks differently
  • play and interaction
  • demonstration of a range of skills and interests
  • numbers as labels and for counting
  • calculating
  • shape, space and measures
  • progress in learning, including any special educational needs identified
  • knowledge and understanding of the world
  • saying and using number names in order in familiar contexts
  • using and developing mathematical ideas and methods to solve practical problems
  • using language such as ‘more’ or ‘less’
  • recognising and recreating simple patterns

Progress and achievement in learning

The child or young person’s educational achievements and progress, including in relation to their peers. Also includes consideration of:

  • adult interest in the child or young person’s educational activities and achievements • progress; for example, measured against the early learning goals in the Early Years Foundation Stage; prior attainment in learning; national curriculum levels achieved; and their peers
  • basic skills – the ability to read, write and speak in English and use mathematics at a functional level
  • key skills – the ability to learn, work with others, carry out tasks
  • participation in activities in the community; development of particular strengths or skills; for example, in sports, arts or vocational training
  • special educational needs – whether the child or young person has significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of children or young people of their age
  • whether the child or young person needs help to catch up when education has been disrupted
  • disability – whether the infant, child or young person has a disability, and reasonable adjustments are being made to support their access to the curriculum and school life generally
  • aspirations – the ambitions of the child or young person, whether their aspirations are realistic and they are able to plan how to meet them

Note: there may be barriers to a child or young person’s achievement of their aspirations; for example, the child or young person’s other responsibilities in the home.  Also includes consideration of:

  • the child or young person’s view of progress
  • the family background
  • motivating elements
  • the child or young person’s level of self confidence
  • perseverance

Participation in learning, education and employment

The degree to which the child or young person has access to and is engaged in education and/or work-based training and, if they are not participating, the reasons for this. Also includes consideration of:

  • attendance
  • the degree to which prior nonparticipation has led to current needs and circumstances
  • access to appropriate and consistent adult support
  • access to appropriate educational resources; for example, books

Early Help - Health And Wellbeing screenshot

General health

The infant, child or young person’s current health condition (for example, growth, development, physical and mental well-being). Also includes consideration of:

  • health conditions or impairments which significantly affect everyday life functioning whether chronic or acute, including obesity
  • access to and use of appropriate health services, such as those provided by a GP/dentist optician, immunisations and appropriate developmental checks
  • number and frequency of hospital admissions and accidents
  • access to and use of appropriate health advice and information; for example, diet, sexual health and contraception, and management of any health condition such as diabetes or asthma

Physical development

The infant, child or young person’s means of mobility, level of physical or sexual maturity/delayed development. Also includes consideration of:

  • being well nourished; being active, rested and protected; gaining control of the body; acquiring physical skills
  • vision and hearing
  • fine and gross motor skills including:
  • crawling, balancing, walking, running and climbing
  • participation in football or other games
  • ability to draw pictures, do jigsaws etc.
  • show awareness of space, of themselves and of others
  • recognise the importance of keeping healthy, and what contributes to this

Speech, language and communications development

The ability to communicate effectively, confidently and appropriately with others. Also includes consideration of:

  • interaction with others, negotiating plans and activities and taking turns in conversation
  • sustained, attentive listening; responding to what has been heard with relevant comments and questions
  • using speech to organise sequences and clarify thinking, ideas, feelings and events
  • extending their vocabulary, exploring the meanings and sounds of new words
  • using their phonic knowledge to write simple regular words
  • showing an understanding of the elements of stories, such as main character, sequence of events and openings, and how information can be found in non-fiction texts to answer questions about where, who, why and how
  • using a pencil and hold it effectively to form recognisable letters
  • using first language
  • ability to gain attention and make contact, access positive relationships, be with others, encourage conversation
  • the impulse to communicate, exploring, experimenting, labelling and expressing, describing, questioning, representing and predicting, sharing thoughts, feelings and ideas
  • listening and paying attention to what others say; making playful and serious responses; enjoying and sharing stories, songs, rhymes and games; learning about words and meanings
  • ability to communicate meaning, influence others, negotiate and make choices, understanding of others
  • vision and hearing
  • language for communicating and thinking
  • linking sounds and letters
  • reading and writing
  • willingness to communicate
  • articulation skills and language structure
  • vocabulary and comprehension
  • fluency of speech and confidence
  • appropriateness of social and communications skills; for example, body language
  • excessive use of expletives or inappropriate language; for example, brusque manner

Emotional and social development

The emotional and social response the infant, child or young person gives to parents, carers and others outside the family. Also includes consideration of:

  • the importance of being special to someone, being able to express feelings, developing healthy dependence, developing healthy independence
  • nature and quality of early attachments
  • self-harm or risk of self-harm
  • phobias or psychological difficulties, fears or psychological difficulties such as persistent sadness or tearfulness
  • temperament, coping and adjusting abilities; for example, after experiencing domestic violence, bereavement or family relationship breakdown
  • disposition, attitudes and motivation to change
  • confidence to try new activities, maintain attention, concentrate and sit quietly when appropriate
  • form good relationships with adults and peers
  • understanding what is right, what is wrong, and why
  • work as part of a group or class, taking turns and sharing fairly
  • the consequences of their words and actions for them and others

Identity, including self-esteem, self‑image and social presentation

The growing sense of self as a separate and valued person. Also includes consideration of:

  • growing awareness of self, realisation of separateness and differences from others, recognition of personal characteristics and preferences, finding out what they can do
  • importance of gaining self-assurance through a close relationship, becoming confident in what they can do, valuing and appreciating their own abilities, feeling self-assured and supported, having a positive view of themselves
  • knowledge of personal and family history
  • access to recognition, acceptance and comfort, ability to contribute to secure relationships, understanding they can be valued by and important to someone, exploring emotional boundaries
  • sense of belonging, being able to join in, enjoying being with familiar and trusted others, valuing individuality and contributions of self and others, having a role and identity within a group, acceptance by those around them
  • race, religion, age, gender, sexuality and disability – may be affected by bullying or discriminatory behaviour
  • understanding of the way in which appearance and behaviour are perceived, and the impression being created
  • understanding that people have difference needs, views, cultures and beliefs, and that they need to be treated with respect
  • understanding that they can expect others to treat their needs, views, cultures and beliefs with respect
  • have a developing respect for their own cultures and beliefs and those of other people

Early Help Children Need Help

Self-care skills and independence

The acquisition of practical, emotional and communication competencies to increase independence. Also includes consideration of:

  • discovering boundaries and limits, learning about rules, knowing when and how to ask for help, learning when to say no and anticipating when others will do so
  • discovering and learning about their body, demonstrating individual preferences, making decisions, becoming aware of others and their own needs
  • • early practical skills; for example, coping with routine such as washing, dressing and feeding (including swallowing, chewing and weaning, in the case of the very young)
  • opportunities to gain confidence and practical skills to undertake activities away from the family
  • independent living skills for older children; for example, appropriate use of social problem-solving approaches
  • the readiness of older teenagers to make the transition from children and young people’s services to adult services

Basic care, ensuring safety and protection

The extent to which the infant, child or young person’s physical needs are met and they are protected from harm or danger, including self-harm. Also includes consideration of:

  • provision of food, drink, warmth, shelter, clean and appropriate clothing, personal and dental hygiene
  • level of engagement in securing universal services; for example, doctor, dentist, optician
  • provision of a safe environment, where family members and other carers act to safeguard the safety and welfare of the infant, child or young person, and the infant, child or young person is not exposed to domestic violence, alcohol/ substance misuse, sexual exploitation or other abusive experiences
  • recognition of hazards and danger both in the home and elsewhere
  • quality of care
  • parental substance misuse (includes alcohol and volatile substances, as well as illegal drugs)

Emotional warmth and stability

Provision of emotional warmth in a stable family environment, giving the infant, child or young person a sense of being valued. Also includes consideration of:

  • parent or carer’s feelings about looking after this infant, child or young person
  • ensuring the infant, child or young person’s requirements for secure, stable and affectionate relationships with significant adults are met, with appropriate sensitivity and responsiveness to the infant, child or young person’s needs
  • appropriate physical contact, comfort and cuddling sufficient to demonstrate warm regard, praise and encouragement
  • maintenance of a secure attachment to the primary caregiver(s) in order to ensure optimal development
  • ensuring the infant, child or young person keeps in contact with important family members and significant others, when it is safe to do so
  • frequency of moves of house and/or early years provision, school or place of learning or employment

Guidance, boundaries and stimulation

Enabling the child or young person to regulate their own emotions and behaviour while promoting their learning and intellectual development through encouragement and stimulation, and promoting social opportunities. Also includes consideration of:

  • modelling appropriate behaviour and control of emotions and interactions with others
  • provision of clear, consistent and appropriate guidance, boundaries and discipline such that a child or young person can develop a positive internal model of value and conscience
  • appropriate stimulation of learning
  • effective discipline
  • ensuring the infant, child or young person’s safety while encouraging independence and avoiding overprotection
  • encouraging the child or young person to participate in and benefit from education and leisure activities
  • supporting the child or young person’s personal and social development so they are independent, self-confident and able to form positive relationships with others

Early Help Economic Wellbeing


What are the living arrangements? Does the accommodation have appropriate amenities and facilities? This includes consideration of:

  • who the infant, child or young person has been living with
  • the exterior of the accommodation and immediate surroundings
  • the interior of the accommodation with specific reference to the infant, child or young person’s individual living arrangements
  • water, heating, sanitation, cooking facilities, sleeping arrangements, cleanliness, hygiene, safety, security and privacy
  • reasons for homelessness


Who is working in the household, the pattern of their work and any changes. This includes consideration of:

  • the impact of work upon the infant, child or young person
  • how work or absence of work is viewed by family members
  • how work affects the family’s relationship with the infant, child or young person

Financial considerations

Income available over a sustained period of time.  This includes consideration of:

  • the family’s entitlement to, and receipt of, benefits
  • income to meet the family’s needs
  • the ways in which the family’s income is used
  • how the family’s financial circumstances affect the infant, child or young person; for example, inadequate legitimate personal income
  • whether the family is suffering financial hardship due to an emergency; for example, loss of possessions/ homelessness
  • whether there is serious debt or debt payments reducing income

Family and social relationships

The ability to empathise and build stable and affectionate relationships with others, including family, peers and the wider community. Also includes consideration of:

  • stable and affectionate relationships with parents or caregivers
  • sibling relationships
  • involvement in helping others
  • age-appropriate friendships
  • association with predominantly pro-criminal peers or lack of non-criminal friends
  • understanding of others and awareness of consequences
  • association with substance-misusing friends/peer groups

Family history, functioning and well-being

The impact of family situations and experiences. This includes consideration of:

  • culture, size and composition of the household – including changes in the people living in the accommodation since the child’s birth
  • family history – including any concerns about inheriting illnesses from a parent
  • family routines
  • disorganised/chaotic lifestyle
  • failure to show care or interest in the infant, child or young person
  • impact of problems experienced by other family members, such as physical illness, mental health problems, bereavement or loss
  • whether the infant, child or young person is witness to violent behaviour, including domestic violence (both physical and verbal)
  • involvement in criminal activity/anti-social behaviour
  • experience of abuse
  • family relationships – including all people important to the infant, child or young person; for example, the impact of siblings, absent parents and any serious difficulties in the parents’ relationship
  • history of family breakdown or other disruptive events
  • father or mother away from home through work, e.g. armed forces or in prison
  • parental physical and mental health (including depression) or disability
  • involvement in alcohol misuse
  • involvement in substance misuse (includes alcohol and volatile substances as well as illegal drugs)
  • whether anyone in the family presents a risk to the infant, child or young person

Wider family

The family’s relationships with relatives and non-relatives. This includes consideration of:

  • formal and informal support networks for the infant, child or young person
  • formal and informal support networks for the parents or carers
  • wider family roles and responsibilities; for example, including employment and care of others
  • appropriate level of support from family members

Behavioural development

The behaviour of the child or young person and whether behaviour occurs in a particular setting or all settings.  Also includes consideration of:

  • lifestyle and self-control (including participation in reckless activity and need for excitement)
  • behaviour in nursery, class or other environments where the child or young person comes into contact with their peers
  • whether undiagnosed conditions may be impacting behaviour (e.g. hearing or visual impairment)
  • substance misuse (includes alcohol, volatile substance misuse and controlled drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971)
  • anti-social behaviour; for example, destruction of property, aggression towards others, harm or risk of harm to others
  • sexually inappropriate behaviour and attempts to manipulate or control others
  • early sexual activity, unprotected sex, lack of reflection or positive decision making about sex and relationships, making them vulnerable to coercive or exploitative relationships
  • offending behaviour and risk of reoffending
  • violent or aggressive behaviour at home or school
  • attitudes to offending
  • over-activity, attentiveness, concentration and impulsive behaviour

Social and community elements and resources, including education

Explores the wider context of an infant, child or young person’s neighbourhood and its impact on the infant, child or young person, including details of the facilities and services available. Also includes consideration of:

  • neighbourhood characteristics; for example, levels of crime, disadvantage, employment, high levels of substance misuse/trading, teenage pregnancy
  • relationship with neighbours
  • availability and accessibility of universal services, including schools/ colleges, schools offering access to extended services, youth service, early years settings, day care, primary healthcare, places of worship, transport, shops and leisure activities, and family support services
  • quality of the learning environment and educational support services
  • physical access to facilities and services
  • degree of child or young person’s social integration or isolation
  • the influence of peer groups, friendships and social networks; for example, substance or alcohol misuse.

Useful Documents

EHA Example Questions - Education (word 154KB)
EHA Example Questions - Health Wellbeing (word 156KB)
EHA Example Questions - Families Where Children Need Help (word 155KB)
EHA Example Questions - Economic Wellbeing (word 153KB)
EHA Example Questions - Relationships (word 154KB)
EHA Example Questions - Community Engagement (word 154KB)
EHM Exemplary Assessment (pdf 261KB)
TAF Meeting Structure (word 159KB)
Early Help Assess Plan Review Guidance V12 (word 1.75MB)

Last Updated on Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Recite Me Button