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Early Help Service 0-19 (including Children Centre’s and Health Visiting)

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The Early Help Service 0–19 can help support your family from pregnancy until your child is 19.

The service is made up of East Sussex County Council and NHS professionals, who can offer a wide range of support at your home, from a Children’s Centre or from a Youth Centre.

We can offer help and support through:

Early Help 0-19 is a vital service in the identification and support of early years special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). 

Health Visiting and Health

The Health Visiting Team (which includes health visitors, staff nurses and community nursery nurses) provide all families with five developmental reviews from pregnancy to when your child is 2 ½ years old, as well as extra support when needed. This is called the Healthy Child Programme. The team will discuss you and your partners own health and wellbeing as well as your child’s health and development needs. They can provide direct support to you as well as accessing a wide range of service from the rest of the Early Help team.

Because of the five developmental reviews, health visitors are often the first professionals to be involved in the assessment and support of young children with SEND.

When your child has SEND, or a suspected developmental need, your health visitor can:

If your child under 5 has SEND, you should make contact with your local health visiting team. To contact the team please follow this link to the health visiting Pages on the East Sussex Healthcare website:

Portage Service

The Portage service is a home-visiting educational service for pre-school children with SEND, and their families.

This service offers advice, information and support to families of children with severe learning disabilities who may have other additional needs such as physical, medical, sensory or autistic spectrum conditions. 

Three people playing with toys

Early Communication Support Workers

Early Communication Support Workers (ECSW) are practitioners who can help with early speech, language and communication development. The ECSWs are not Speech and Language Therapists but they do have a special focus on speech and language.

The ECSWs run Toddler Talk sessions across East Sussex to support families who have concerns about their child’s speech, language and communication. The ECSWs give parents and carers support in developing their understanding of their child’s speech and language development.

You can contact an Early Communication Support Worker through your Health Visiting team:

Creches in Children's Centres

Staff called Early Years Practitioners (EYPs) provide creches for children aged from 12 weeks to 5 years to help parents and carers access appointments, groups and classes. The creches are suitable for children with SEND and support the development of key skills such as language learning.

Contact your local Children's Centre for more information.

1 to 1 Support and Intervention Groups

Early Years Providers (EYPs) can provide 1 to 1 support sessions with families which include supporting play with a child and making assessments of a child’s development. This is helpful for children whose development is falling behind other children their age. The 1 to 1 support is usually received when a referral is made by another professional such as a health visitor.

The EYPs will also run small intervention groups for families to attend with other families to learn and play together.

If you are interested in 1 to 1 support from an EYP then talk to your health visitor or speak to someone at your local Children’s Centre.

Small Beginnings

Small Beginnings is a group for families who have pre-school children (usually aged 3 to 4) who may have concerns about their child’s development of communication, cognition, interaction or play skills. The group is facilitated by an Early Years Practitioner and a Community Nursery Nurse and sometimes supported by other professionals such as ISEND practitioners.

The group has the same structure each week and includes a play session, a snack time, and a group activity. The groups are designed around the specific learning needs of the children and families are supported to understand their child’s development and learning needs.

If you are interested in attending Small Beginnings then talk to your Health Visitor or speak to someone at your local Children’s Centre.

Open for Parents

Open for Parents is a website managed by the Early Help Service which advises parents on different aspects of parenting. It includes tips for parenting all ages of children (it does not have SEND specific tips) and gives information on how to access the Parenting Team who can advise and support parents who need it.

Additional Help and Support


Amaze SENDIASS (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Service) are a local charity who offer free, independent, and impartial advice for all matters relating to SEND. Contact Amaze SENDIASS:

East Sussex Local Offer directory of services

You can visit our SEND-specific online directory, hosted on East Sussex 1Space, that lists many different services both throughout the county and online. Services include advice, guidance and support groups, activities and events and mental health and wellbeing support among many other topics:

NHS - Health A to Z

While the East Sussex Local Offer aims to provide as much information as possible, there may be some conditions that aren't covered in thorough detail. The NHS website has pages that list all conditions, with information and advice on how to get extra support:

Glossary of East Sussex SEND Terms

Some of the terms used on this website are explained on our page, Glossary of East Sussex SEND Terms.

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