Early Support

Preschool children playing in classroom.

The Early Support Pathway aims to improve the delivery of services for children with a disability or significant and complex additional needs and their families.

The Early Support Pathway follows a child and family centred approach which aims to get the best possible outcomes for both children and families in Cambridgeshire. 

What is the Early Support Pathway?

The Early Support Pathway is a multi-disciplinary approach to meeting the individual needs of children who have a disability or significant and complex additional needs. Specialist Services who are part of the Early Support Pathway include Paediatricians, Speech and Language Therapists, Specialist Teachers, Specialist Practitioners, Health Visitors, Physiotherapists and Child and Family Centre Managers. 

Early Support in Cambridgeshire uses the Think Family approach to support children and their families. This approach ensures there is: 

  • one thorough family assessment using the Early Help Assessment 

  • one family support plan, which is developed and reviewed by parents and professionals together at multi-agency Team Around the Family meetings. This enables services to co-ordinate support and avoids duplication 

  • one lead professional; chosen by the family. This can be any professional working with the child. The Lead Professional provides a first point of contact for the family and supports the planning and coordination of services. 

Who is the Early Support Pathway for?

The Early Support pathway is for children from birth until the end of Reception year at primary school, who have a disability or significant and complex additional needs, and require ongoing specialist support from across education, health and care. This includes children who have sensory, learning or physical difficulties, great difficulty communicating, and / or who have complex health needs. All children on the Early Support Pathway will need additional support with many aspects of their daily lives and it is probable that there will be a lifelong impact on their development and learning. Please note that children in Reception will still be considered for Early Support however the School Aged pathway may be deemed more appropriate. 

How are children referred to the Early Support Pathway?

In partnership with parents/carers, early years settings, health professionals, schools and other services can initiate an Early Help Assessment. The Early Help Assessment is initially reviewed by the Early Help Hub and is then sent to the Early Support Coordinators to process.  

What is the role of the Early Support team?

The Early Support team in Cambridgeshire can be contacted by parents and professionals; they support the administration of Early Support and assist Lead Professionals by: 

  • coordinating referrals to Early Support from practitioners such as health workers, early years settings or schools 

  • coordinating assessment, planning, and sharing of information for children on the Early Support Pathway and their family 

  • signposting parents and professionals to available services, support, information, and Early Support resources 

  • supporting arrangements for Team Around the Family meetings 

  • supporting transition planning such as from and into health, Early Years settings, entry to school or to other areas and services. 

SEND Service 0-25

SEND Service 0-25 supports children with significant and complex additional needs and their families. SEND Service 0-25 consists of specialist teachers and practitioners, educational psychologists and sensory support services.  

If your child is part of Early Support, the SEND Service 0-25 team may be involved as part of the support offered. If your child does not attend an early years setting or only attends for a few hours they may be offered a place at a Support for Learning group, which usually takes place at a Child and Family Centre. If your child attends an early years setting a specialist teacher or practitioner may visit the setting to offer support and advice.  

If your child has social communication difficulties, you may be offered a place on one of our Social Communication, Interaction and Learning Skills (SCILS) courses. These seven-week courses for parents are run by SEND specialists and cover topics including understanding communication difficulties, developing communication skills, understanding play, using visuals and behaviour. You can find details of courses in the local offer directory. 

How do I find out more?

Please contact the Early Support team for more information, help and support.  

General email: early.support@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

Related Pages

  1. Support for families
  2. Early Years Education and Childcare
  3. Preparing for the future
  4. Special Educational Needs Support
  5. Targeted Support


  1. Cambridgeshire Early Support Guidance & Pathway
  2. Cambridgeshire Early Support Leaflet

External Links

  1. Cambridgeshire Community Services
  2. National Portage Association


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