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The Continuum of Need

The Continuum of Need Incorporating Threshold Guidance, previously referred to as the Safeguarding Children’s Threshold, is a means of providing needs-led appropriate access to services in compliance with statutory duties.  The Continuum of Need Windscreen demonstrates the levels of need children, young people and their families can move between when considering the type of support needed.

Whilst every effort is made to ensure our joint website contains up to date information, please do let us know if you identify any errors, particularly in relation to telephone numbers and website addresses.  You can report updates to

If you have any concern for a child you should contact the First Response Team on:

Telephone: – 01296 383962 between 9am-5pm Monday to Friday.

If you need an urgent response outside of these hours, contact the Emergency Duty Team (EDT)

on 0800 999 7677.

The Continuum Tool identifies four levels of vulnerability, risk and need to assist practitioners to identify the most appropriate service response for children, young people and their families.

No additional needs identified or limited intervention needed to avoid needs arising.

Children and young people whose needs are met by on-going services such as schools, GP’s, Health Visitors and Dentist alongside the love, care and protection of parents and carers.

Children and young people in this category are making good overall progress in all areas of their development.

Some limited intervention from a universal service may be needed to avoid needs arising or to meet a single identified need. The majority of children living in the UK will fall into this category.

Useful Contacts

Additional needs:

Children and young people with additional needs (not just SEN), that can be met through a single agency response or through agencies working together to provide a coordinated partnership response.

The support required may only be short term, but if ignored, these issues could lead to escalating.

Useful Contacts

Multiple and / or  complex needs:

Requiring a multi-agency Early Help response with a lead professional. Level 3 also includes the threshold for a Child in Need.

Although a Child in Need requires a statutory response from Children’s Social Care, a statutory intervention is not necessarily required.

For this reason the threshold for a Child in Need falls in level 3, but where a statutory intervention is required from Children’s Social Care this would fall into level 4.

Children and young people in this category have increasing levels of un-met needs that are more significant and complex. The range, depth or significance of the problems faced by children at level 3 may begin to prevent them from achieving or maintaining a reasonable standard of health or development if they don’t receive appropriate services. They are likely to require targeted and/or longer term intervention from specialist services.

Useful Contacts

High level of unmet, complex needs and protective factors:

Children and young people in this category are identified as having suffered or likely to be suffering significant harm or significant impairment to their health or development.

Harm is defined under 4 possible categories: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. These children require intensive support under Section 47 of the Children Act 1989 (child protection plan).

Sometimes ‘Significant Harm’ will be a single, traumatic event, but more often it is an accumulation of significant events, both acute and longstanding over time, such as in situations of neglect.

Useful Contacts

Continuum of Need Levels 1 to 4 working across the page following the windscreen.

Continuum of Need Levels 1 to 4

Continuum of Need Incorporating Threshold Guidance (A3 print version) to be downloaded and displayed in your organisation: –