Bexley uses Signs of Safety as the practice model for working with children and their families. This is a strengths-based approach to working in partnership with families. Safety plans for children are developed in collaboration with parents, social workers and other key professionals supporting the family. Signs of Safety is a whole – system approach to practice, applied throughout the child’s involvement with social care services.
The welfare and safety of the child are paramount. Signs of Safety promotes the use of child-friendly and age appropriate tools for direct work so that the child’s wishes and feelings are part of the safety planning with the family. Through the use of direct work and play, the child is able to have a meaningful role in any safety plan and the child’s voice is clearly heard in all aspects of the help being provided to the family.
Wherever possible, children should be cared for within their family network. Signs of Safety emphasises children remaining in the care of their parents or other family members if this is safe for the child. Intensive help is provided to the family to develop safety plans that are achievable but always have the safety of the child as their main focus.
Signs of Safety builds on the strengths in the child’s network and uses a solution-focused approach to working with difficulties a family may be facing and to help parents through meaningful and positive engagement to make changes.
Working in partnership involves being able to develop positive and constructive working relationships with parents, children and other professionals. When using the Signs of Safety approach, the quality of the relationship between the social worker and the family is based on clear and honest communication and a focus on strengths as well as what needs to change. The focus of social work practice at Bexley is on working in a relationship based way, where social workers have the time and space to help children and families and effect change.