How the Continuum of Need works

1. 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 poster

2. Using the Continuum of Need levels and indicators

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

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

Level One

Sam, 6, keeps asking his teacher to read out some of writing on the board as he cannot see them 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?

Level Two

Emma, 10, lives with her mum and older brother. Her mum works late shifts. Emma told her friend that she often just 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?

Level Three

Billy, 10, attends a special school and was found crying in the toilets by a teacher. 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?

Level Four

Chloe is 14. Her parents separated a year ago after numerous incidents of domestic abuse leading to her dad being convicted. Mum has a new boyfriend. Chloe’s teacher noticed she has become withdrawn in class, is moody and aggressive and recently hit another pupil.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?

3. Tools and practice guidance

Tools and practice guidance

See statutory guidance on inter-agency working: Working Together to Safeguard Children.

Single Point of Advice (SPOA) helpline

SPOA will assess the information. If it meets Level 3 or above they will put you through to the right social work team.

Advice on child protection across East Sussex

Local Safeguarding Children’s Board website