First step

First Step provides psychological health screening and assessment for all looked-after children and young people in Haringey.

We also provide a family rehabilitation service to help children and their families when they go back home to live with their birth parents after a period of time in care.

UK First step is a unique service in the UK insofar as we take an overview of the emotional, psychological and mental health needs of the entire looked after child population, including babies and young children, children with neuro-developmental atypicality, unaccompanied asylum-seeking young people (UASC), young people leaving Care and those with undiagnosed learning needs. 

What we do

Our team of clinicians specializes in assessing and working with children and young people in care, their foster carers, social workers and other professionals in health, social care and education.

When children and young people first come into care, we send a questionnaire to their foster carer or residential carer (called a Strengths & Difficulties Questionnaire). If the results show that the child or young person has emotional or mental health needs, we can offer them and their key adults up to six face-to-face sessions as an extended assessment to understand more about what their key adults can do to help them at that time, and whether a referral to child mental health services might also be appropriate.

We send an annual questionnaire (called the Strengths & Difficulties Questionnaire SDQ) to the carers of all children and young people who continue to be in care. We invite those adults looking after children who have emotional or mental health needs to come to a meeting to think about what they can do, what might be helpful and whether a referral to child mental health services might be indicated.
We also have close links with our social care and education colleagues in Haringey so we can advocate for the emotional and mental health needs of looked after children to be considered in care planning for them and in school.

First step plus

First Step Plus is an additional service working with children and young people in the care of Haringey who have had three or more placements over the last year and who are unable to access child mental health services. We work with them and their key adults to try to stabilize their placement in order to improve their emotional wellbeing and increase their opportunities to access services.

Watch me play

Watch Me Play! has been developed in First Step as an intervention to promote child-led play in order to enhance relationships and inform child-centred care planning. In the pre-school years, foster placements provide unique opportunities to mitigate the impact of maltreatment and disrupted relationships for infants and young children. Child-led play is fundamental to interventions to support infants and young children who are at risk of developmental or psychosocial difficulties.

Read more and download the free manual on the Watch Me Play! page.


We work closely with our colleagues in the London Borough of Haringey and share information and assessment reports with them. We also provide a social work consultation service to social workers with concerns about the emotional wellbeing of children they look after.

Feedback from professionals

“It showed me the importance of the first months of life. It was fascinating.”

“It gave me a clear picture of what needs to be done.”

“The court takes advice from First Step seriously.”

“It supported the end result for the child.”

“First Step helped with thinking what the appropriate referrals might be.”

“I implemented some of the suggestions and it started to produce results, small steps.”

"The whole consultation process was informative and I was also given assurance of any further advice and support that is available from this service."

Children and young people aged 0 to 17, in care in Haringey.

If you are a child or young person in care in Haringey we are notified and send a questionnaire to your carer. If your carer’s questionnaire shows that you have needs around your emotional wellbeing, then we get involved to see if we can help. 

You can also speak to your social worker if you would like some help for yourself.

020 3961 3410

Bounds Green Health Centre, 1a Gordon Road, London N11 2PA

Watch Me Play! Supporting babies and young children, together with their parents or caregivers

Watch Me Play! is a simple way for parents and caregivers to support their baby or young child. The approach can be helpful in a range of family...

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