Signs of Safety
We want a shared approach to working with children and families where the family takes the lead for their children’s safety and well-being.
Signs of Safety provide a consistent way of working that all practitioners can use in their work with children and families. From Early Help through to how we manage child protection plans, Signs of Safety can bring about more consistency in our work together.
Why Signs of Safety?
We want all practice to be child-centred and solution focused. We need the support with families, whether early help or with a looked-after child, to lead to lasting change.
Signs of Safety always put a child’s safety first.
The approach supports more direct work with children and families. It draws on people’s strengths and natural networks of support. Families lead the plans and practitioners support them to keep children safe and well.
The model grew out of what practitioners and families reported to be effective. It leads to plans with families that include a robust analysis of strengths and risks. Plans will include specific actions that families must take.
The emerging research highlights that family members say they are clear about what is expected from them. Families report that they feel their views and strengths have been acknowledged as well as their weaknesses understood.
Signs of Safety are now used in many countries around the world. Longitudinal studies in Australia and America are consistent in demonstrating the positive impact of this approach. Over 30 local authorities in England are using the approach. Prof Eileen Munro is leading an Innovation Project with 10 local authorities implementing this approach. The approach is being used in Wakefield, Calderdale, North Yorkshire and Doncaster.
How will we roll out Signs of Safety?
A multi-agency Steering Group is in place and reports to the Children’s Trust Board and the Bradford Safeguarding Children Board.
We have agreed a local Signs of Safety Charter
A major training initiative is being run for practitioners to enable them to use the approach when working directly with children and families. By the end of 2016, we had more than 1,300 professional practitioners trained in Signs of Safety. Further courses will run throughout 2017.
Organisations and children’s centre clusters using Signs of Safety will have a practice lead. Practice leads will share best practice and learning across their organisations or clusters.
A Signs of Safety Early Help plan is already in place.
From the end of April 2017, we will hold our Child Protection Conferences through the Signs of Safety approach. Please see below for key guidance and forms.
How will we know anyone is better off?
Other areas have found a reduction in the numbers of children who need to have child protection plans or come into care. Emerging research states this is because of:
- The way the approach focuses on strengths
- The shared ownership of plans between family members and different professionals
- More clarity about what needs to happen to make the child safe.
We would need to analyse the feedback we get from families and practitioners. Our expectation is that feedback will demonstrate more effective work with families and better outcomes which are reached in a more timely way.
We are already beginning to see some changes in the way we work, within Early Help and our social work teams. One social work team manager has reflected on using Signs of Safety when planning how to implement police protection orders on a large sibling group.
She said: “As we made progress, Signs of Safety was used to determine the wishes and feelings of the children, what the parents understood to be the problem and what they needed to do to resolve the situation so that the children could return to their care.
“Signs of Safety was also used in determining the families wider support network and in understanding who else could care for the children and how the family would reach their identified goals.
“The case was dealt with by a mixture of traditional social work methods and signs of safety. It is a beginning and we found by using the signs of safety theory we were able to better evidence our way forward.”
One of our children’s centre cluster managers said: “It was a good opportunity for the team to get a feel for what it is like to use the paperwork for themselves. It made the exercise more creative as people enjoyed drawing their own houses in small groups. The use of different language – good things, worries, dreams – meant that the team was able to think outside of narrow work based jargon and think creatively in their ideas.”
Want to know more about Signs of Safety?
The main website for Signs of Safety is: www.signsofsafety.net