Norfolk Continuum of Needs Guidance

A Child Centred Framework for Making Decisions Ensuring that children & young people receive the right services at the right time and for the right duration.

This Norfolk Continuum of Needs Guidance sets out our approach to keeping children in Norfolk safe and protected from harm. This guidance replaces the previous Threshold Guide and is designed to ensure that across the continuum of need professionals consider that the right help is given to the right children at the right time and for the right duration.

Guidance to Understanding Continuum of Needs

This document incorporates recent changes made around how our services are organised. Nationally and locally we are still trying to make sense of world events and ensuring that children’s safety and wellbeing remains a social imperative. This iteration of guidance has been designed to continue to improve the conversations we have when we are concerned about children and ensure that professionals know the best support route so that the issues children and families are facing can be managed as early as possible.

We have issued this version and separated out some of the tools that you can use to articulate and assess needs and risk in order to allow greater flexibility in updating documents. This guide is intended for professionals while some of the tools in the toolbox have been co-produced with children, young people and families.

The Threshold Guidance for working with disabled children and young people which was a supplement to the previous Norfolk Threshold Guide, is still relevant.

Assessing risk and needs is a crucial skill for all people involved in safeguarding children.  This guidance should form part of core safeguarding training.  To support with this we have developed some slides for single agencies to use in their core training.

**Watch this space for a new animation on the Continuum of Needs Guidance that will support professionals to explain the way we work to children - coming 2024**


The sections below contain resources and guidance for professionals to use that are ‘family friendly’ and designed to be used with the families when discussing your concerns.

The Descriptors of Need tool has been developed to help you think about the assessment triangle and domains of concern. Its purpose is to help you articulate concerns that you may have about the family, as well as an opportunity to reflect on their strengths.

Descriptors of Need

**Watch this space for the Ages and Stage document which is currently under developement**

The Norfolk Continuum of Need Guide requires the consent of one or both parents or of a young person (with capacity) to give informed consent for services to work with the family.

Consent Leaflet

We have also translated word versions of the consent leaflet into the following languages for you to use with families:




As a safeguarding system, Norfolk is not alone in using abbreviations as shorthand for the services or tools that we work with.  This can be confusing, particularly for people who have just started in a child safeguarding role so we have devised a glossary to help you find your way around.  As a reminder any shortened version of a word or a group of words is, by definition, an abbreviation. However, there are different kinds of abbreviations.

  • Acronym: where the (initial) letters spell a pronounceable word (eg INSET, NIEAS)
  • Initialism: where the (initial) letters do not represent a word (eg NCC, ADHD)
  • Truncation: where a word has been ‘cut short’ (eg Tues, comms)

We hope you find this helpful.  If you come across any abbreviations that are used regularly but are not included here, please let us know.  The intention is to keep all the tools under regular review to ensure they are helpful.


The guide and some of the tools produced here are in digital format.  If you need any print versions showing full https information, please email the NSCP Business Unit.