Signs of Safety integral to our children’s services improvement journey
Here at Medway children’s services we are making significant progress in our improvement journey. We have put in place strong leadership coupled with a stable, supported workforce, which is reducing overall caseloads.
Sitting squarely behind the raft of improvements, which have already been recognised by Ofsted, is the strengths-based, safety-orientated approach to working with children, young people and families known as Signs of Safety. This has already considerably improved our approach in growing staff confidence.
Empowering young people
“It’s brilliant,” Misha, a social worker who’s been at Medway Council for four years, said:
"The Signs of Safety model has made such a positive difference since we started using it last year. It’s a fantastic way of working with families and young people as it really empowers them to take ownership and address problems and identify what works well for them.
It also helps me to build better, stronger relationships with them which, as a social worker, is very important and at the heart of everything I do."
The Signs of Safety assessment and planning framework, which was implemented at Medway in spring 2020, specifically focuses on solutions and is designed to help practitioners build better, stronger relationships with families by focusing on their strengths, networks, and resources.
Impact on wider culture in and around Medway
We use the model at all stages of our work with children, young people and families including the child protection process to assess strengths, safety and danger. Partner agencies have been introduced to the model and are beginning to use it in practice. This way we’re looking to develop a shared language and ethos.
We are growing a culture where all meetings, supervision, panels, and assessments are framed using the approach and ongoing. Comprehensive training is available for practitioners and managers, with briefings available for partners. Further training for partners will be available in the future.
Assessing social worker Kathryn added:
From day one I have been offered lots of training and it has boosted my confidence enormously. It has provided a consistent way of working for everyone involved, from the families to other professionals like teachers and healthcare workers.
We all take a joined-up approach, use the same language to agree on worries and work towards shared goals. It’s simply a brilliant tool that helps us to be the best that we can be while ensuring that the child is always at the centre of our thinking and we’re already experiencing positive outcomes for the families that we work with.
Embedding Signs of Safety as our practice model is part of our robust improvement plan to address the issues identified in the 2019 Ofsted report.
A proven model
Director of People, Lee-Anne Farach, said: '“Protecting Medway’s children is one of our most important tasks and relationships are at the centre of our work. We are deeply committed to supporting constructive working relationships between our practitioners, family members and our partner agencies. Lee-Anne continues:
Signs of Safety is a proven model that strengthens professional practice and improves long-term outcomes for families and children.
Embedding Signs of Safety as our practice model with regular training available for all staff means that Medway is truly an exciting place to work with a range of challenges and experiences to support career development, health and wellbeing.
Our practitioners can achieve and be the best so children in need of our help and protection receive the service they deserve.
Find out more
To find out more about the Signs of Safety model and how we are taking it forward in Medway, visit our Signs of Safety page.
Social work career opportunities at Medway Council offer a great benefits package, competitive salary, manageable caseloads, professional development, and career progression.
Our current vacancies include experienced social workers and team managers.