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News > Signs of Safety Initiative

Signs of Safety is an innovative strengths-based, safety-organised approach to child protection casework, created in Australia by Andrew Turnell and Steve Edwards. To develop it, they worked with over 150 front-line statutory practitioners and based it on what those practitioners know works well with difficult cases.

It is a specific way of working with families that allows everyone to have a voice and to work together to keep a child safe. Signs of Safety meetings are held to assess risk, look at worries and strengths and make decisions about a child’s safety. A Signs of Safety meeting helps families and caregivers to work with the agency and other services to keep a child safe. The Signs of Safety approach has attracted international attention and is being used in jurisdictions in North America, Europe and Australasia.

The approach focuses on the question “How can the worker build partnerships with parents and children in situations of suspected or substantiated child abuse and still deal rigorously with the maltreatment issues?”

This strengths-based and safety-focused approach to child protection work is grounded in partnership and collaboration. It expands the investigation of risk to encompass strengths and Signs of Safety that can be built upon to stabilise and strengthen a child’s and family’s situation. A format for undertaking comprehensive risk assessment — assessing both danger and strengths/safety — is incorporated within the one-page Signs of Safety assessment protocol. (This form is the only formal protocol used in the model). The approach is designed to be used from commencement through to case closure in order to assist professionals at all stages of the child protection process, whether they be in statutory, hospital, residential or treatment settings.

To learn more about this innovative practice approach, review the summary document.