How the Continuum of Need works

1. Overview

The Continuum of Need

This is a visual tool for services working with children and families. It provides a common language to describe needs and risks.

Using the Continuum

  • The Continuum of Need cannot replace professional judgement. It is not a checklist or an assessment of need.
  • A family’s position on the Continuum changes as their situation changes.
  • Consider which needs take priority when identifying the proper level.
  • Continuum of Need

Using the Continuum of Need levels and indicators

For a full explanation of the Continuum of Need levels, see list of indicators.

Examples of Continuum of Need Levels are below (not actual cases):

Level 1

Sam, 6, keeps asking his teacher to read out writing on the board as he cannot see it clearly. Sam’s teacher shared her concerns with his mum who took Sam for an eye test. The next week, Sam came to school wearing his new glasses.

Questions that need to be asked:

  • Do you have any concerns about Sam?

  • What information or advice is available to Sam’s parents?

See level 1 indicators.

Level 2

Emma, 10, lives with her mum and older brother. Her mum works late shifts. Emma told her friend that she often has crisps or biscuits instead of dinner, and her mum is always crying. Emma has never handed in any homework, and the school finds it difficult to contact her mum.

Questions that need to be asked:

  • What are the concerns around Emma?
  • Should the school do anything to help?
  • Who else do you need to talk to?
  • What information or advice is available to Emma’s mum?

See level 2 indicators.

Level 3

Billy, 10, attends a special school. His teacher found him crying in the toilets. He said his mum’s new boyfriend is always shouting at him, and is horrible after he starts drinking. His mum told him not to say anything to anyone.

Questions that need to be asked:

  • What are the main concerns about Billy and his family?

  • Who do you need to talk to?

  • Is anyone else already working with the family?

  • If you have access, have you checked Single View?

  • What other information, advice or support is available to Billy’s parents?

See level 3 indicators.

Level 4

Chloe is 14. Her parents separated a year ago after several incidents of domestic abuse led to her dad being convicted. Mum has a new boyfriend. Chloe’s teacher noticed she has become withdrawn in class. She is moody and aggressive and recently hit another pupil. Her mum has been seen with bruising to her face and Chloe said that mum’s boyfriend isn’t allowed to see his own children anymore. Other parents have shared rumours that mum’s boyfriend has a criminal record related to indecent images of children.

Questions that need to be asked:

  • What are the main concerns around Chloe, her mum and partner?

  • Who else needs to be involved?

  • Is anyone else already working with Chloe or her mum?

  • If you have access, have you checked Single View?

  • Is this information being recorded?

See level 4 indicators.

Tools and practice guidance

See statutory guidance on inter-agency working: 

Single Point of Advice (SPOA) helpline

The SPOA will assess the information. If it is at Level 3 or above they will transfer it to the correct team.

Advice on child protection across East Sussex

See Local Safeguarding Children’s Board

Download the poster

You can download and print the Continuum of Need poster here. Please note, this poster is not accessible and is for print only.

Continuum of Need poster [266.0 KB] [pdf]

An accessible version of this poster is also available

Accessible Continuum of Need

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