From birth, all children will become involved with a variety of different agencies in the community, particularly in relation to their health, education, safety and their personal and social development. A range of professionals will have a role in supporting their general well-being and development.

For the majority of children their developmental needs will be met by universal service provision – midwives, health visitors, general practitioners, early years and childcare practitioners, teachers,  youth workers, school nurses, school support staff.

Many children will have additional needs for a short period in their lives which could be a short term reaction to a particular change in circumstance that can be met within universal services. However, sometimes advice or intervention may be required from targeted support services, while some children may have even more complex needs that may require support from specialist or statutory services such as Children’s Social Care, Youth Justice, CAMHS, SEN, Integrated Support for Children with Disabilities, or from any of the private voluntary or independent sector targeted services.

These needs are likely initially to be identified by the universal service providers, who therefore have an important responsibility to be alert to emerging additional needs and to assessing what level of response is required for the child or young person.

At all levels of identification of need, a practitioner will check with the child, young person or family whether there is existing or previous involvement with another service. The practitioner can also check whether a CASA (or previous CAF) has been undertaken by contacting the Central CASA Team. The Central CASA Team can also make checks with their counterparts in neighbouring authorities about equivalent Early Help assessments.

In order to provide a formal multi-agency framework for decisions on addressing needs, Merton’s Child and Young Person Well-Being Model (MWBM) introduced concepts to facilitate practitioners/agencies in having the means available to consider

  • whether a child/young person has additional needs
  • their level of vulnerability
  • when to begin a Common and Shared Assessment
  • which needs require targeted intervention from universal or voluntary services, or specialist or statutory services (special education needs, schools support, drug and alcohol misuse services, family support, youth work, early years and childcare services, advisory or mediation services, bereavement counselling, young carer, health, child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), children's social care, offending and criminal justice, adult services, other

Aspects of provision for children with additional needs is outlined in the following trio of Tables of Additional Needs Indicators. In using their professional judgement practitioners need always to take into account the context of the situation, as well as relevant Protective and Resilience factors.