We use Signs of Safety, a strengths-based framework, in our child protection and social work. Our framework looks at all the protective factors, the strengths of a family and a community and existing safety and then aims to build upon those strengths in order to keep children safe and healthy and well cared for.
It’s collaborative — we always strive not to do things to families or for families, but help them to think through their own problems and come up with their own solutions. We do this by building collaborative safety plans that involve the whole network that surrounds the child — mum, dad, relatives, neighbours, school teachers, village chiefs, local authorities — whoever we can draw on from the surrounding community to assist with keeping children safe and healthy.
We also take this approach when working with communities — which we’ve been testing and developing in the pilot we’re running with Family Care First (35 NGOs who peer-selected our model for scale). We went into 11 new villages and conducted the mapping with the whole village (everyone was welcome to participate) in thinking through — what’s working well? What are all the really great things in this village that are already keeping children safe in families? What are we worried about? If nothing changed what would be our greatest concern for children in this village? What do we want to see happen? What are some small next steps we can do now to help ensure children are safe and well cared for in this village?
Using this framework, we ensure that the voices of the kids, the voices of the community, the voices of all our beneficiaries are being heard.