Signs of Safety

Help with risk assessment and safety planning in child protection cases.

There are 43 UK local authorities implementing the Signs of Safety approach to help protect children. West Sussex is one of the 10 leading local authorities, which means you will see this approach used in many different parts of our system.

These include:

  • early help services
  • children's safeguarding and protection
  • children's disability services
  • fostering and adoption.

What does it mean?

In practice this means that when a children’s social 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 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 are 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' tool provided below.

Supporting documents

Last updated:
28 October 2020
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