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Information for professionals

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What the early childhood and family service (ECFS) is

The ECFS offers support to families with children aged 0 to 5 years old living in Norfolk. We are a tier 2 service as defined by the Norfolk Threshold Guide (opens new window). We offer early help for children and families experiencing challenges which, without support, may get worse.

We can offer one-to-one or group support, face to face or online, daytime or evening, to suit the needs of each family. The service is funded by Norfolk County Council and run by Action for Children

ECFS general telephone contact (professional use only): 01603 573160 or 01603 561131

Parents should call our main number: 0344 800 8020


Who you might refer

Families living in Norfolk with at least one child aged 0 to 5 years old. Some examples might include:

  • Anyone who needs help to understand and support the development of a child aged 0 to 5
  • Parents who are feeling low in confidence, lonely or isolated
  • New parents who are having difficulty adjusting
  • Under 5s with communication and language concerns or who are not meeting other developmental milestones
  • Parents experiencing challenges with imbedding routines, setting boundaries, sleep or behaviour
  • Families with difficulties around parent/child relationships and bonding
  • Households that experience conflict (below the threshold for domestic abuse)
  • Families who have experienced, or may still be experiencing, domestic abuse
  • Households with financial challenges that mean they are unable to afford essential items

How you can make a referral

Once consent has been gained from the family, please complete our request for support form.

If you are working with a family who require emergency funds, please  complete our emergency request form (Word doc) [88KB].

Please make sure to include as much detail as possible on your referral to make the process as smooth as possible.

How you can keep up to date

We have an active social media presence across several platforms sharing the latest information about our service, as well as tips for parents, activity ideas and local information from our partners.

Follow ECFS Norfolk on:

If you have any questions about our service, or you would like some leaflets or other promotional materials, please call us on 01603 573160 or email

ECFS Interventions

ECFS provides the following interventions for families with children aged 0 to 5 years living in Norfolk:

Circle of Security

An 8-week course based on supporting and strengthening the attachment between parent and child. This programme can help parents or carers better understand their child's emotional world, support their child's ability to successfully manage emotions, enhance the development of their child's self-esteem, and build a stronger and secure relationship with their child.

Find out more information on the International Circle of Security website. (opens new window)

Understanding Your Child's Behaviour : The Solihull Approach

A 10-week reflective course, based around practical activities and discussions, to help parents learn more about their child's development and the reasons behind certain behaviour. Topics covered include; communication, rhythms of interaction, having fun together, ages and stages of growing up, temper tantrums, managing feelings, sleep, and rupture and repair in relationships.

Find out more information on the Solihull Approach parenting website. (opens new window)

Triple P

An 8-week course that offers support, information and practical answers to everyday parenting concerns. Triple P is a Positive Parenting programme, which is particularly useful as an early intervention for parents of children with behaviour problems or who are at risk of developing behaviour problems. The programme aims to promote positive caring relationships between parents and their children, as well as helping parents to develop effective management strategies for dealing with a variety of childhood behavioural and emotional problems and common development issues.

Find out more information on the Triple P website. (opens new window)

Video Interactive Guidance (VIG)

Video Interaction Guidance (VIG) is an intervention where the parent or carer is guided to reflect on video clips of their own successful interactions with their child. The process begins by helping the family to negotiate their own goals (a helping question). Asking them what it is they want to change helps to ensure they are engaged in the process. Adult/child interactions are then filmed and edited to produce a short film of what is working well. VIG is recommended in the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines for children's attachment.

Find out more information on the AVIG website. (opens new window)

Reducing Parental Conflict

Conflict between parents is a normal part of relationships and family life, but when it is frequent, intense, and poorly resolved it can have a significant negative impact on children's mental health and long-term life chances. This 6-week programme can help parents or carers learn how to resolve conflict in a way that's better for their children. It is aimed at addressing conflict below the threshold of domestic abuse, in all types of parental couples still in a relationship together.

The Freedom Programme

A 10-week course for women who would like to look at healthy relationships and to have a safe environment to be able to discuss and understand previous and current relationships. The aim of the programme is to help women who have experienced domestic abuse make sense of, and understand, what has happened to them. The Freedom Programme also describes in detail how children are affected by being exposed to this kind of abuse and, very importantly, how their lives are improved when the abuse is removed.

Please note: In some areas of Norfolk, we offer a similar course in partnership with local domestic abuse services in place of the Freedom Programme.

Find out more information on The Freedom Programme website. (opens new window)


Wellcomm is a specific speech and language assessment tool, that informs a bespoke speech and language intervention plan from the 'Big Book of Ideas'. If a child aged 0-5 needs to be referred into Norfolk and Waveney Children and Young People's Health Service for specialist speech and language support they need to have received this first round of 'assess, plan, do, review' before they can be referred for more intensive support (unless they have a stammer or similar diagnosis, which fast tracks a child straight into specialist intervention).

A Wellcomm assessment may need to be completed alongside a more holistic package of family support, depending on the needs of the child.

Find out more information on the GL Assessment website. (opens new window)

Baby Massage

A 5-week course introducing massage strokes. This can help with colic, attachment and can support parent and baby to feel more relaxed. Small, face to face groups or one-to-one sessions if more appropriate to the needs of the family.

Find out more information on the International Association of Infant Massage website. (opens new window)

Communication Café

Communication Café is a 5-week group to help parents understand how playing and chatting with children builds their communication. For children aged 0 to 5 years.

Forest Schools

12 weeks of outdoor adventures and play. Encouraging exploration using natural resources to stimulate imagination and creativity. With its holistic, learner led approach, we find that sensory experiences found outdoors can give children opportunities to gain self-esteem, confidence and increased physical and social skills as well as demonstrate independence. Outdoor activities support adults' mental health and wellbeing too and can strengthen the parent/child relationship in this unique environment.

Blossom - a group for children with additional needs

A group to support children's individual needs through play, where they can work towards their own milestones. A chance for parents and carers of children with additional needs to talk and share experiences. The group includes visits and information sharing from a range of specialist services. We recognise that some children may not have received a diagnosis yet, that's why this session is open to all children and families that find other groups challenging.

Norfolk Breast Pump Loan Service

All parents have the choice to decide whether to breastfeed or not. The Norfolk Breast Pump Loan Service is here to support those who choose to breastfeed.

Norfolk Breast Pump Loan Service includes:

• A breast pump - to be used to express your own milk

• Support and information - you will be provided with all the information you need to use the pump

• Hospital grade electric double pumps - that are sterilised between loans.

Pump access is free and available for an initial 6 week period, to all breastfeeding parents who need it. To access to a pump, please e mail

Online Information Sessions for Parents/Carers (webinars)

We offer a range of live online sessions for parents on various topics. Parents can book on themselves.

Find out what's coming up and book online. (opens new window)

Here are examples of some of the sessions we offer:

Baby Brain Development

Have you ever wondered what your baby's experience of the world is like inside the first few months of their life? Find out in our baby brain development session along with how you can best help them learn and develop during their first year.

Toddler Tears, Tantrums and Expected Behaviour

An interactive information and question and answer session for anyone who spends time with under 5 year old's. Find out:

  • what is normal behaviour for your toddler.
  • the reasons why toddlers behave in certain ways
  • how you and your family can manage big feelings and challenging behaviour from little people

Delivered in partnership with Norfolk Children and Young People's Health Services.

Healthy Teeth for Under 5's

An informative and interactive session for parents and carers. Find out how to:

  • keep tiny teeth healthy
  • brush teeth effectively
  • choose the right foods and drinks from weaning age upwards
  • how to access a dentist with your little one

Delivered in partnership with Community Dental Services.

Car Seat Safety

An informative session for parents and carers, delivered in partnership with the Norfolk County Council road safety team. Find out how to ensure your child's car seat fits them and your vehicle correctly along with many other helpful tips for keeping your children safe when travelling.

Sleep Workshop for Exhausted Parents

An in-depth session with professional sleep therapists from Sleep East. The workshop covers the science of children's sleep as well as strategies for developing a good bedtime routine, self settling, sleeping through the night, early waking and maintaining a good sleep pattern.

Getting Ready for The Potty

An interactive and informative Q&A session for parents and carers who are thinking about beginning or are in the early stages of toilet training. Find out useful tips for successful toilet training and take the opportunity to ask any questions you might have for professionals.

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