Signs of safety is the best method to create lasting change for children and their families.
Signs of Safety is a friendly and respectful method to work with families where a child’s safety is at stake. It is an approach that puts the child and it’s family in the centre of our work.
It is crucial that the involved staff member is comfortable with his/her professional authority, in order to create a safe environment for the child. Likewise, it is equally important that he/she is able to establish a goal-oriented and cooperative relationship with the family that is focused on the child’s safety (Turnell & Edwards, 1999).
Our main objective is to solution focused, where the attention is put in discovering the families resources, that can help effectuate change. Traditional ideas about the ‘helping’ social worker are being questioned, such as the belief that a social worker knows what is best for the family. The key to success is to give clients a say and to ask them questions, as to establish a partnership, even when the parent has abused or neglected his/her child (-ren). Nonetheless, the child’s safety is always the main objective throughout the process.
Andrew Turnell and Steve Edwards developed this method in the 90s, based on the experiences of professionals in child protection in Western Australia.
Signs of Safety brings us back to the original objectives of social work: the child is at the centre of the process, the client is the expert of his personal issues, and respect for the client and his environment is key. The strength of the client is underlined by a non-condemnatory attitude, while establishing a safe environment for the child to grow up in. Danger (like child abuse) is regarded as a problem within the context of the family’s situation, and therefore, the solution must be found in collaboration with all family members (and their network).
“Signs of Safety represents not only a gentle and loving approach to protection work, but also a hopeful and respectful way to build solutions and ensure safety for the entire family” – Insoo Kim Berg