Signs of Safety

Signs of Safety (SOS) has been adopted by Nottingham City Council Children’s Services as the overarching practice framework for all of its work with children and families. It describes a purposeful and collaborative way of working with families to secure the best outcomes for children and young people.

What is Signs of Safety

Signs of Safety is a strengths- based safety orientated approach: it’s about family members and professionals working together to meet children and young people’s needs in the best way possible. It puts children, young people and their parents at the heart of the work.  Families play a key part in working alongside professionals to understand the  worries and concerns that are identified for their child, (who is worried and why), identifying the things that are going well in the child’s life (strengths/safety), and agreeing what needs to be done (goals), to build on the strengths and safety  to reduce the worries and risks.

Assessing and Understanding the needs

Signs of Safety provides a structured way of assessing and understanding the child or young person’s needs by asking four key questions

  1. What are we worried about? (needs/risks)
  2. What is working well in the family? (strengths/safety)
  3. What needs to happen to make sure your child is safe and well in the future? (safety/well-being goals-  What the family and professionals need to see to be satisfied the child is safe and well. These are turned into goals and a family plan).
  4. How safe or well is the child on a scale from 0 to 10? (0 meaning the child is in danger, 10 meaning the child is safe)

Signs of Safety Tools

In Signs of Safety the child or young person is kept central during all the work with a family. Developed in New Zealand by Nicki Weld and Maggie Greening, the Three Houses is a practical visual tool to help parents and families identify their own strengths, hopes, dreams, and vulnerabilities. Using drawings of three houses (or any other images that the child or young person relates to), the tool explores the child or young person’s worries about their lives, the good things or positive things that are happening in their lives, and their hopes and dreams for the future.

The Fairy/Wizard tool serves the same purpose as the Three Houses Tool, but with different graphic representation and can also be used to gather children’s views.  

Please click on the links below to download these Signs of Safety tools:

A My Three Houses App, funded by the UK government and designed with children’s services practitioners in the UK, USA and Australia, is now available worldwide for iOS and Android tablets, completely free. Download the My Three Houses App from the App Store and Google Play.  Further information is also available by clicking here

A number of local resources have also been developed to share difficult subjects with children and young people for example depression, and drug misuse and alcohol misuse. 

Please click on the links below to download these free resources.

A Little Book of Signs of Safety has been developed and is available to buy at cost. To purchase the book please download an order form.

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