Signs of safety and children's social work in Bristol

The Child In Need and Child Protection forms that the child and family receive have now been changed.  We hope the language being used in forms are clear, and that they can put their views across in the assessment. 

The child and family should receive support using Signs of Safety (SoS) Tools, and Methodology and, we are undertaking regular service user feedback to see if it is making a difference.


Single assessment

Since 26 August 2014 a child and family have one assessment by a Social Worker which uses the language of Signs of Safety.


Signs of safety use ‘Mappings’ to focus on how the information being given is:

  • harmful – what happened in the past / present
  • what is dangerous for the child
  • what are the complicating factors involved
  • what is working well
  • are there any strengths which can be tested over time to make the situation safe
  • what are the goals for the child and family so we can close the case
  • what are the steps to take to make the goals happen

3 Houses

The ‘3 houses’ tool mirrors the ‘Mapping’ and is a tool to work with the child so we can understand their view of the situation:

  • what is good
  • what is worries them
  • what would they like things to look like (dreams)

Anything can be used to focus the thinking and, it works well  if the child is able to draw themselves, and the worker makes notes.

Three Houses form (pdf, 101k) (opens new window)

Training sessions

Each organisation is now responsible for disseminating this training to their staff.

Child protection case conference

Signs of Safety ‘Mappings’ are now used in Child Protection Case conferences to assess if the child is living in a family where the threshold is met.

When we are so worried, a multi-agency plan is needed to keep them safe and support the family through change. All agencies are asked to fill in the forms based on the Signs of Safety before the Conference.

Quality assurance

To support the Signs of Safety, the work  is quality assured  by practice leaders located across the city who work with the principal social worker to: 

  • learn from each other about what is working well
  • observe each other work
  • audit mappings and plans 
  • highlight good practice