Keeping it simple to keep families safe

Thousands of families in Liverpool are to benefit from a new internationally renowned approach to tackling child welfare concerns.

Organisations involved in the safeguarding of youngsters including social care, health, education and Merseyside Police have agreed to use the approach to working with existing families.

‘Signs of Safety’ recognises the fact that all families despite their circumstances and challenges, have strengths, and by building on them professionals can work more closely with families and build better relationships – particularly where there are concerns about children’s safety and welfare.

It uses really simple and straightforward language to explain things so that families can understand what professionals might be worried about.

By using the Signs of Safety model of practice across all agencies, they will share the same approach, use the same language and be more consistent for families.

They will be working across the safeguarding and support services from Early Help through to children who become looked after by the local authority.

Liverpool supports thousands of families who need assistance every year, and has more than 1,200 children in care.

Cabinet member for children’s services, Councillor Barry Kushner, said: “We want to make sure families are supported to understand in real terms what professionals are worried about and why it matters for their children at that time in their lives.

“A lot of it is common sense, such as using child friendly words and picture books that are made to tell the child’s own story using their own words. Often when parents start to understand how their behaviour is impacting on their children and hear how their children are feeling it can be very powerful.”

The project will be rolled out a major workforce development programme across Liverpool to make sure the approach is built in to the work done with children and families in the city.

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Ryan, who has responsibility for protecting vulnerable people in Liverpool, said: “We are committed to working with our partners and are fully supportive of the new model which will change the way we work and will really help us to concentrate on the families that need our help.

“In the long term it is expected that Signs of Safety will provide significant benefits for those families who need additional support. These will include less re-referrals to children’s social care and more children safely remaining in their own homes. It is also expected that this will result in only the right children coming into care and where this is the case, ensuring that they are placed and remain within stable placements.”

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: “Adopting the Signs of Safety model demonstrates our ongoing commitment to putting the needs of children first and recognising that they, and their families, have the right to fully understand the work which is being done to keep them safe.

“It will improve the ability of all responsible agencies to safeguard children. This is an internally-recognised, evidence-based way of working with children and families to build relationships, identifying areas where help may be needed but also focusing on what is working well and how that can be strengthened. I look forward to seeing the benefits it can bring for families here in Liverpool.”

Jan Ledward, Chief Officer, Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “We’re really pleased to adopt the Signs of Safety model in our safeguarding work with children and families across Liverpool.

“It will help ensure a simpler, more consistent, and more child-friendly model of care, which builds on our commitment to work collaboratively with children, parents and our colleagues from other agencies to ensure the very best outcomes for children in Liverpool.”

Pictured above are partners at the launch of the Signs of Safety event.