In practice this means that when a children’s social worker or early help practitioner visits or holds a meeting with a family, they will ask the following questions:
- What are we worried about?
- What do we know has happened in the past that has caused harm to the child?
- What are we worried might happen to cause harm in the future?
- What are the things that make it harder for the family to care for their children?
Signs of Safety is a strengths-based approach so we will also be asking the following very important questions:
- What’s working well?
- What are the parents, their family or friends already doing that is keeping the child safe?
- What are the strengths in the family that might help to keep the child safe in the future?
As we learn more about the family we develop a safety goal which records our best hopes for safety in the future.
We will work with the family and their network as well as other professionals to develop a safety plan with clear steps in place that address the worries so that the family and their network can work towards achieving the safety goal.
The child’s views, wishes and feelings are explored with them to help inform our worries (Danger Statement) and Safety Goals. One way we are doing this is by using the 'three houses' tool which captures the child’s House of Good Things, House of Worries and House of Dreams.
How did Signs of Safety Evolve?
Dr Andrew Turnell and Steve Edwards developed the Signs of Safety in the 1990s. They used the experiences of child protection workers and what worked best for them with difficult cases to grow the model. If the practice worked they kept it - if it didn’t work they stopped doing it. Through this collaborative process the Signs of Safety Practice Framework was developed.
Signs of Safety is focused on how to build a partnership with parents and their network of family and friend to build safety around the child where a child has been harmed or is at risk of harm to strengthen and stabilise their family life.
We will use this joined-up approach to work with partner organisations to use Signs of Safety in Wakefield.
Signs of Safety outcomes:
- Families feel more empowered and can understand and address the concerns
- Fewer children removed from families that are working closely with children’s social care
- Greater job satisfaction for practitioners due to the clear approach, purposeful tools and the impact for the children, young people and families
- Fewer referrals and improved outcomesPlacing the child at the heart of the process and building a safety network around their care
- Working with families and not against them as part of a “blame culture”
- Creating a shared language to manage risk, using plain English that families and children can understand
- Developing a practice framework and learning culture across the Children and Young People’s Service