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There are currently 19 local authorities across the UK who have taken the decision to implement the Signs of Safety approach within their social care and support services. A further 10 authorities are training their staff to use the approach in their current work and with a view to future implementation. The information below shows how some of the implementing authorities are using the approach and where they are in the Signs of Safety journey.   


East Riding of Yorkshire Council


In February 2012 East Riding’s Children’s Social Care Service Manager and Workforce Development Officer attended a conference to explore the use and implementation of Signs of Safety within our Children and Young Peoples Safeguarding and Support Services. The service profile covers Children’s Social Care, Early Years, Youth and Family Support, Child Care Resources, and Safeguarding. Following our commitment to whole service implementation, our Signs of Safety Leadership Team was identified and members of the team attended an individual Planning Day.

In April 2012, we started rolling out training events delivered by Tracey Hill, our Signs of Safety Trainer and Consultant. The majority of our staff have now attended the two-day introduction training. In addition, our Senior Management Team and other designated managers have attended one-day overviews. This has developed a shared understanding of the approach whilst enabling frontline practitioners to have priority on the 2-day training.

Identified Practice Leaders attend regular sessions to develop their skills and understanding of the approach. At these sessions Practice Leaders work with our consultant to revisit and deepen their assessment and mapping skills, practice Signs of Safety language and practice the use of Signs of Safety direct work tools. Our Team Managers are noticing that analysis of information is clearer and does not repeat the main body of assessments. Practitioners are using some of the direct work tools to facilitate communication with children and families, and they are reporting families are responding positively to an approach where they can see and be involved in business about them.  

Lincolnshire County Council

Lincolnshire County Council has recently started the journey of implementing signs of safety. From July 2013 frontline staff have been trained and this will continue until December 2013. Ten practice Champions have been identified and they have attended the intense five day residential course where they were able to explore, challenge and practice the process on live cases, they will be supported into 2014 by consultant Tracey Hill.

The LCC vision is that these practice champions are supported in each locality and across Children’s Service areas by a further 30 practice leads. This will be supported by the project manager alongside the principal child and family social worker to ensure the consistent application of the process and assist with the wider agenda of reclaiming social work advocated by Dr. Eileen Munro. LCC will be seeking the support of multi-agency partners and have already asked LSCB to endorse this approach. The signs of safety model has been welcomed by practitioners due to its accessibility and the ability to work more collaboratively with children and their families to help them identify solutions to complex problem. LCC will be advocating the use of this model in social work training as a tool to assist newly qualified social workers to work in partnership with families, improve assessments, identify risks, strengths and devise effective and manageable safety plans.


Swansea City & County Council

Swansea is the first local authority in Wales to implement the Signs of Safety approach and so the eyes of other Welsh boroughs are firmly on them. They are taking a thoughtful and thorough approach with a willingness to be a Learning Authority. Swansea have invested in training all of their staff in Solution Focused Brief Therapy followed by 2 days of introduction to the Signs of Safety. They have a committed Steering Group chaired by Dave Howes the Assistant Director, they have a superb project leader in Bev Edwards and have identified Practice Leaders who are working with Viv Hogg on a regular basis.

The Senior Managers have recognized the need to learn from others and to share their learning and to this end sent 10 Practice Leaders to the 5-day Residency in 2012 and a further 15 in 2013. There has been good representation from the Senior Managers’ team at all leadership events, and we are anticipating a strong Swansea contingent at next years International Signs of Safety Gathering.


Staffordshire County Council

Staffordshire has begun implementing the use of Signs of Safety across both its child protection social work teams and our early intervention services. So far we have started to run initial training for local teams and we have in place a training plan to deliver training for up to 350 staff across the whole of the county by mid-2014. 

 Using Signs of Safety will support our implementation of the single social work assessment and our redevelopment of the multi-agency CAF. We are also using the approach to support the development of step up and down pathways and relationships between targeted and specialist services and the initial training and the on-going practice leader groups are based around local pairs of team which we hope will become communities of practice, supporting both the best use of the approach and also better co-working to support those children and young people at potential risk of harm and to sustain the outcomes of our social work interventions.


Suffolk County Council

Suffolk County Council Children and Young People’s Services is at the beginning of the Signs of Safety journey.  We are looking to see if we can adopt the approach and methodology for our statutory and early help services:  a whole authority approach to our work with children and young people.  We are also looking to see how the approach might be used in our adult services.  Following discussions with Viv Hogg and Terry Murphy (Director General Western Australian Department for Child Protection), and full backing from our Director and Assistant Directors, we have now appointed a project manager to guide us through these exciting and challenging times.   The next few months will be about planning, learning from elsewhere and engagement with our own workers and partner agencies.  All being well the training for the first phase of our roll out will begin in February 2014.