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Continuum of need

Continuum chart

Warrington's continuum of need sets out our approach to keeping children in Warrington safe and protected from harm. Across the continuum of need we want professionals to be confident that the right help is given to the right children at the right time and for the right duration.

The guidance encourages early conversations when we have emerging worries about children, and acknowledges that all professionals will need a framework to help them recognise risk and agree an appropriate response.

Partnership working is essential to reduce the need for more intensive interventions at a later stage this improving long term outcomes for children and young people.

There are four levels that take into account the different stages of need and types of intervention which are available to children and their families. Children can move across the levels at different times in their lives, or at different times during agencies’ contact with them. Support might be provided on a single agency basis or a multi-agency basis.

You can access the new Continuum of Need Guidance 2022 below. 

Continuum of Need Guidance (November 2022)


The tables within the guidance sets out examples of the types of presenting risks, needs or concerns and gives an indication of the type of service response that may be most appropriate.

Using the guide to support decision making and inform their conversations with others will help professionals to make sure the child they are worried about will get the right service at the right time for the right duration. The guidance will never give all the answers, nor will it ever take the place of talking to each other, sound professional judgement and good communication.

Within the guidance is a Matrix tool.

The Continuum Matrix can be used to create a picture of individual needs and vulnerability. It is not a formal assessment and you are not required to send this in or share this with anyone.

 It is a means of enabling you to set out your thoughts to help you make a decision about what to do next. It is not necessary to complete all areas of the matrix if you do not have the evidence to do so. The needs of child and young people rarely fit into neat categories and often change over time. It has been designed to inform early identification of vulnerability, risk and need and can be used to start the process to clarify concerns and/or monitor progress.

 Plot relevant descriptors on the matrix to give a visual representation of the child or young person’s level of need. The matrix reflects your professional judgement and informs decision making.

Continuum of Need Matrix Tool

Family Friendly version of the Continuum of Need

Quick Reference for Continuum of Need

Key Messages!!

 quotation mark openThe right help, the right time, the right durationquotation mark close

quotation mark openEarly conversations are crucialquotation mark close