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Signs of Safety

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What is Signs of Safety

Stoke-on-Trent Safeguarding Children Board (SCB) has adopted Signs of Safety as the basis of work with children across all partner agencies engaged in providing services for children in Stoke-on-Trent. Signs of Safety has also been adopted by Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Early Intervention and Children’s Social Care Service as the core philosophy for working with children and families across the city.

We will ensure that a proven, evidence-based practice framework is used across all services creating a consistent and inclusive experience across Stoke-on-Trent for children and families in receipt of services. Families will become increasingly familiar with the concepts and vocabulary of Signs of Safety as it is used routinely in all our work with children and families from their first contact with practitioners in universal services and where necessary right through to child protection, children in public care and back to universal services

Central to this approach is the use of specific practice tools and processes where professionals and family members can engage with each other in partnership to address and work together on solutions to meet the needs of children. As practice depth grows, Children’s Social Care and partner agencies will use Signs of Safety as the basis of case discussions in multi-agency arena’s such as Child Protection conferences, Child in Need planning meetings and Looked After Children’s Reviews.

Signs of Safety
There are over 43 UK local authorities implementing the Signs of Safety approach to help protect children. Stoke-on-Trent City Council is one of these, which means you will see this approach used in many different parts of our system, such as:

  • early help services
  • children’s safeguarding and protection and in need
  • children’s disability services
  • children in care
  • fostering and adoption.

What does it mean?
In practice this means that when a children’s social worker or early help worker visits a family, or you attend a meeting where children’s social care is involved, they will be asking 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 that might happen to cause harm in the future?
  • What are the things that make it harder for the family to look after their children?

Signs of Safety is a strengths-based approach though, so we will also be asking the following very important questions:

  • What’s working well?
  • What are the 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 outlines our best hopes for safety in the future.

We will work with the family and professionals to develop a safety plan. Sometimes called ‘next steps’, these are the steps that the family and those people working with them will take to work towards the safety goal.

We will make sure that we get the child’s views and one way we are doing this is by using the ‘three houses’ or similar tool during direct work with the child.

From 1st December 2017, we will hold our Child Protection Conferences through the Signs of Safety approach.

The following key guidance and forms are available under related links:

  • Partner leaflet on Signs of Safety
  • Partner leaflet on Child Protection Conference

Signs of Safety Briefings / Training

Briefings are aimed at those who are involved in Child Protection conferences, core groups, and Child in Need meetings and contributing to/conducting Signs of Safety based assessments.

For those professionals that need a more detailed knowledge of the approach one day Signs of Safety Development Sessions will be available.

Training- For details on this subject area please follow the link to the SCB website.

Other assessment tools & information will be available on this page shortly

This section contains various Signs of Safety practice tools and information for direct work with children and their family networks to help understand the Signs of Safety ethos and methodology.

Stoke-on-Trent Signs of Safety Terms and Tools (see related files attached)

  1. Professional Report for Child Protection Case Conference - Guidance
  2. Professional Report for Child Protection Case Conference
  3. Signs of Safety assessment & planning form (to follow)
  4. Quick start guide to mapping
  5. Summary of danger statements and safety goals
  6. Turning questions into conversations
  7. Strengths Based Questions
  8. Scaling questions
  9. Words and pictures – safety plan example (to follow)
  10. Signs of safety Fairy / Wizard Tools 

Signs of Safety does not preclude the use of other well tested evidence based theories and assessment tools used by a wide spectrum of professionals, indeed it complements them. Signs of Safety does give us a common language and puts children front and centre of our work with families across the city.

Want to know more about Signs of Safety?
Click on the links below to view the latest Signs of Safety Newsletters.

The main website for Signs of Safety is: 

Related Files:

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