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LutonChildren's Services Procedures Manual

Step-Up and Step-Down


In December 2019, this chapter was updated locally to reflect local practice.


  1. Background
  2. Introduction
  3. Step Up/Step Down between Early Help and Universal Services
  4. Step Up/Step Down between Children and Family Social Work Services from Early Help Services
  5. Resolving Professional Disagreement
  6. Appendix 1: Step Up Process Flowchart

1. Background

The purpose of this internal procedure is to ensure the right service is delivered at the right time, by providing timely support to children and their families within the Children and Learning Service.

The desired outcome is that all interventions are proportionate to the child's needs and have the maximum impact and benefit for the child and their family, using resources in the most efficient manner. The family and child's experience should be seamless and without delay.

This document describes the transition arrangements that should be followed when a child's needs move from Universal Services to Early Help Services to Statutory Services, and vice versa.

2. Introduction

Services for children and families should be provided on a continuum of help and support, which allows professionals to be flexible and respond to different levels of need. Children's needs are not static, and they may experience different needs, at different points on the continuum, throughout their childhood years. Step up / Step down processes aim to improve outcomes for children by ensuring families experience a seamless transition from one level of service intervention to another as illustrated below.

Support Continuum

The different levels of service provided within the Children and Learning Service are:

  • Universal Needs provided by Universal Services;
  • Additional Needs/Multiple Additional Needs provided by Prevention and Early Intervention Early Help Services, via an Early Help Assessment;
  • Specialist Needs and Safeguarding provided by statutory Services, including Child Protection (CP) and Children in Need (CIN panel Social Care).

The transition practice between the different levels is referred to as the 'step-up' and 'step- down' process.

3. Step Up/Step Down between Early Help and Universal Services

Step up from Universal Services to Early Help

In many cases a single need can be met within Universal Services. However, where there are additional needs, it is essential that a holistic Early Help Assessment (EHA) is carried out at the earliest opportunity to ensure all services that are involved with the child and family are clear about the identified needs and how each service contributes to addressing these.

The completed EHA should be e-mailed to

Step Down from Early Help to Universal Services

When issues have been addressed satisfactorily a closure meeting is held by the allocated worker inviting the child, the family and the services that are involved. If the decision to step down is ratified the case is stepped down to the most appropriate Universal Service and an exit questionnaire should be completed. The EH Manager/Deputy Manager will authorise the closure summary and the Early Help Episode is closed.

4. Step Up/Step Down between Children and Family Social Work Services from Early Help Services

Step up from Early Help to Children and Family Social Work Services

There will be occasions when it is not possible to respond to a child's needs through Early Help Services e.g. when considered to be at risk of significant harm. The allocated EH worker will collate information about the concerns that are considered to be placing a child and their family at risk of significant harm.

This step up process will commence with an initial discussion between the allocated EH worker/EH Manager/EH Deputy Manager. If it is agreed that a step up maybe required an Escalation Review Meeting (ERM) is held.

The ERM is attended by EH managers/Deputy Managers and the allocated EH worker who is presenting the child and family's needs. If the step up decision is ratified the EH worker will complete an escalation summary and submitted this to a EH manager. The EH manager will review the summary and submit this to the MASH at

If the MASH concludes that the case is to be 'stepped up' to Children and Family Social Work Services the Early Help Team will close the case after 10 days if assessment is ongoing. The case may be co-worked by both teams during this 10 day period.

If the assessment concludes the case is to be 'stepped down' this will be confirmed in a discussion between Team managers/Deputy Team Managers in the Assessment Team and Early Help within the 10 day period. The case will then be 'stepped down' and the updated Single Assessment e-mailed to Early Help at

Step Down to Early Help from Children and Family Social Work Services

There will be times when intervention through statutory services is no longer considered necessary. However, support to address a child's additional needs may still be required and this is best achieved through the Early Help Service.

Step down referrals from the Family Safeguarding Teams are presented at the CIN Panel which is chaired by the Service Manager from The Family Safeguarding Teams and or the Service Manager from the Assessment Teams. The CIN panel is attended by an Early Help Manager/Deputy Team Manager.

If the step down decision is ratified at the panel the current Child in Need Plan, Care Plan completed by the Family Safeguarding Team will be e-mailed to the Early Help Team at This must include signed consent from the family to work with Early Help Services. The Family Safeguarding /Assessment Team Manager will authorise the Assessment and start the case closure process.

Early Help will email the social worker and manager to confirm that the case has been received and notify the social worker when the case is allocated.

At the transfer between services a joint visit, to include the Early Help Team and Family Safeguarding / Assessment Team worker, will be organised by the Family Safeguarding Team/ Assessment worker currently holding the case;

When a Family Safeguarding Team transfer a case to the Early Help Service and within three months there is a re-emergence of the previous safeguarding concerns the case will return to the Family Safeguarding Team that made the original referral.

5. Resolving Professional Disagreement

Luton has clear procedures to govern the processes to be followed when professional disagreements occur in relation to the safeguarding of children and step up or step down processes. The Escalation Procedures to resolve professional disagreements relating to the safeguarding of children and the escalation of professional concerns should be followed as detailed in Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire and Luton Safeguarding Children Boards Procedures, Escalation Procedures.

Appendix 1: Step Up Process Flowchart

Click here to view Appendix 1: Step Up Process Flowchart.