Frequently Asked Questions About Our Home-Visiting Service

Who can be referred?

It is our aim at Home-Start East Sussex to operate an open referral policy ensuring that support is available to any family who lives in East Sussex that is experiencing stress or difficulty and who has at least one child under the age of five. However, funding restrictions do not always make this possible, and as a result the availability of our service can change from year to year. For information about services currently available please click here.

Who can make referrals?

Families can refer themselves, or be referred to Home-Start East Sussex by any agency, e.g. health visitor, social worker, family support worker, CPN, GP, nursery teacher, etc.  We only restrict referrals where there is a lack of resources.

How do I make a referral?

For each referral made a referral form should be completed. Before sending in a referral form families must be consulted, informed of the content of the referral form.

All referrals received will be assessed to determine whether or not:

  • the family has willingly chosen Home-Start East Sussex
  • the referral falls within the remit of the scheme
  • the referrer needs to provide further information prior to a visit by the co-ordinator
  • the scheme is likely to have the resources to support the family

Referrals can be made by families by submitting an Enquiries Form.  Feel free to contact the office for an informal chat in the first instance.

We also accept third party enquiries from professionals such as nursery staff, key workers, health visitors and social workers.

What happens if a referral is refused?

We may have to restrict referrals due to a lack of resources in which case we will endeavour to signpost to another agency.

What happens if a referral is accepted?

All enquiries will be followed up by an informal chat.  Once accepted for Home-Start support families will receive an initial visit by a co-ordinator to clarify their needs and the support that Home-Start can offer.

Do you have a waiting list?

Home-Start East Sussex aims to provide support to families as soon as possible, but where there is not a volunteer available immediately the family will be asked if they want to go on a waiting list. The majority of families are linked within four weeks of referral, however on occasion families may be waiting longer than this, or be told that support is unavailable for the foreseeable future and be taken off the waiting list. Referrers will be given an update on a monthly basis.

How will I be kept informed of the progress of the referral?

Referrers will be informed by the co-ordinator:

  • when the referral has been accepted or rejected
  • when support is offered to a family, i.e. they are linked with a volunteer
  • a family is placed on the waiting list
  • support to a family ends

The referrer will be contacted at the commencement of support and at the end of support to a family.

All other contact with referrers is usually made by phone.

Referrers are given the opportunity to comment on the service offered by Home-Start East Sussex at the end of support to families via a referrers’ questionnaire.

How are volunteers matched with families?

The co-ordinator pays careful attention to matching volunteers’ skills and experience to the needs of families. Many factors are taken into consideration, including:

  • the family’s needs
  • the volunteer’s aptitudes, skills and experience
  • practical considerations: geography, transport and time
  • mutual interests or life experience
  • what motivates the volunteer
  • issues around culture, gender, background and disability

The success of Home-Start support is dependent on the relationship that develops between the family and the volunteer, so co-ordinators make every effort to match sensitively and appropriately.  The co-ordinator always accompanies the volunteer on the first visit to introduce the volunteer to the family, set the ground rules for visiting and to agree an action plan (the discussion is led by the family). The co-ordinator will stay as long as appropriate to support the family and volunteer to get to know each other.

Do you have a confidentiality policy?

All personal information about parents and families is treated as confidential to be discussed only as necessary with the co-ordinator in support of the volunteer and to assist the family. Any disclosure of confidential information to any other person may only be undertaken with the expressed permission of the parents for the purpose of assisting the family, except where it is considered necessary for the welfare and protection of a child when information shall be shared with the appropriate authority.

How long is support offered for?

Volunteers provide support  for 2-3 hours per week for approximately three months focussing on one or two key objectives. Home-Start East Sussex’s aim is to encourage families towards independence so that the volunteer is no longer needed. The review process will determine how long the volunteer’s support is likely to be needed and clear plans will be made for ending the support in discussion with the volunteer and family.

Do you offer other support in addition to home visiting volunteers?

Subject to funding, families can be offered support outside their home, which complements home-visiting support, for example, family groups, outings, training courses.  For details of the services currently please click here.

How are volunteers screened?

All volunteers meet the requirements of our personal specification. They are interviewed before being invited to attend an eight day accredited preparation course and will undergo a final interview before a decision is made by the co-ordinator about their suitability for placement with a Home-Start family. We take up two references and an enhanced DBS check.