Signs of Safety

In Manchester, our practice is framed by Signs of Safety.  As a practice framework our other practice models and tools, such as the Safe & Together model or tools like the chid impact chronology and Graded Care Profile, are used in a complimentary way within this framework. 

Signs of Safety is a strength based-solution focused. Enabling more effective partnership and collaboration with families.. The ‘key vehicle for change’ is the worker-family interaction (Turnell & Edwards, 1999 p.33). Signs of Safety is a questioning  approach and underpinning this questioning approach is the use of appreciative inquiry, which the Signs of Safety tools facilitate. As 

The Signs of Safety consultation mapping process is designed to help workers think their way into and through ,,, in preparation to take the assessment map to the family and other professionals involved in the case. The consultant/supervisor uses an inquiring (questioning) approach to help the worker ‘map’ or ‘think themselves into and through’ the case using the Signs of Safety framework. By mapping the case, a worker can get their own assessment out of their head and onto paper, so that the assessment and case plan can be reflected on and developed more easily, both with other professionals and the family. (Turnell, et al 2017 p.1).

A Collaborative Process

The Signs of Safety approach is collaborative. Both in terms of using the Assessment and Planning Framework (above) and how we work with families and professionals throughout, as illustrated in the Safety Planning Roadmap (below). This approach facilitates us to ‘work with’. 

As an approach, the framework supports practitioners to enact our principles of practice. As discussed in the recent research carried out by Caffery and Brown (2022). They draw links between self-determination theory and the ‘how’ of Signs of Safety. Noting that, “…SofS strategies mirror those that SDT research has found facilitate ‘autonomous motivation’.” Within the article is the following passage, which speaks to the importance of choice.

“Choice and participation are effective strategies for behaviour change because they reduce (not eliminate) the worker–family power differential. This makes people feel trusted, respected rather than blamed and understood and that their ideas are valued. Choice and participation enable people to feel some ownership of the process, which can make them feel invested in it and empower them to feel capable of change.” 

Relatedness supporting strategies and mechanisms Caffrey & Browne (2022).

Signs of Safety in Practice

Presented at the Signs of Safety Gathering in Norwich 2016 by Alison Russell, this presentation describes how an external primary school has implemented Signs of Safety. It shows how using Signs of Safety allowed the cases to be held in Early Help without escalating to Social Care. The presentation also looks at how schools/education can implement the model into their everyday way of working and the success of doing so.

Using the Signs of Safety with children in residential care. Noriko Okano from Japan presentating at the Dublin Signs of Safety Gathering Noriko has taken the mapping, My Three Houses, family safety circles and words and pictures methods and adapted them to the children and teenagers she works with. She has also made them richer by harmonising them with Japanese culture and traditions.

How to apply Signs of Safety in high-risk cases. A short video from Community Care.


© 2021-22 Stephen Brock

Developed by: Stephen Brock, M.S.W., Social Work Consultant.


This website makes use of cookies. Please see our privacy policy for details.