Referral FAQs

We help families with young children through a combination of home-visiting support, outreach, group support, parenting information and social activities.

Frequently asked questions

Who can be referred?

It is our aim at Home-Start South & West Devon to operate an open referral policy ensuring that support is available to any family who is experiencing stress or difficulty and who has at least one child under the age of twelve. 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 ring our office.

Who can make referrals?

Families can refer themselves, or be referred to Home-Start South & West Devon by any agency, e.g. health visitor, social worker, family support worker, CPN, teachers,SENDCO, PSA 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 and show their agreement by signing the form.

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

* The family has willingly chosen Home-Start South & West Devon.
* 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.

Download Referral Form (.doc)

What happens when a referral is accepted?

All referrals that are accepted for Home-Start South & West Devon support will receive an initial visit by a co-ordinator before support is offered to clarify their needs and the support that Home-Start can offer.

Do you have a waiting list?

No, Home-Start South & West Devon aims to provide support to families as soon as possible, but where there is not a volunteer available immediately the family will be advised of the situation. The majority of families are linked within two months of referral, however on rare occasions families may be waiting longer than this, or be told that support is unavailable for the foreseeable future and this information will then be sent out to the referrer and the family.

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 not.
  • When support is offered to a family, i.e. they are linked with a volunteer or start to attend a group
  • Support to a family ends.

An Email will be sent to the referrer 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 South & West Devon 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 link sensitively and appropriately.

The co-ordinator always accompanies the volunteer on the first visit to introduce the volunteer to the family and set the ground rules for visiting. 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.
Home-Start Standards and Methods Practice.

How long is support offered for?

Volunteers provide continuous, regular support for a period of time consistent with a family’s needs. These are assessed initially and reviewed periodically.

Home-Start South & West Devon’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?

Families can be offered support outside their home, which complements home-visiting support, for example, family groups, outings, parenting information.

Families may be offered alternatives to home-visiting volunteers if it is felt to be more appropriate.  For details of the services currently available please phone our office.

How are volunteers screened?

All volunteers meet the requirements of our person specification. They are interviewed before being invited to attend a preparation course for one day per week over eight weeks 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 2 References and an enhanced CRB check.