Signs of Safety: Nurturing a Secure and Empowering Environment


In a world filled with uncertainty, safety becomes a paramount concern for all of us. Whether it’s ensuring the safety of our loved ones or creating secure spaces in our communities, the Signs of Safety approach offers valuable insights into fostering a protective environment. This blog explores the key principles and signs of safety, highlighting the importance of this framework for human well-being.

Understanding Signs of Safety

What is Signs of Safety?

Signs of Safety is a collaborative, strengths-based approach to child protection and safety planning. It was developed in the 1990s and has since been adopted in many human services agencies worldwide. Its core philosophy is centered around building safety, ensuring permanency, and strengthening the well-being of children, families, and communities.

The Key Principles

  1. Safety is a Priority: The safety and well-being of children and vulnerable individuals are paramount. Signs of Safety emphasizes the importance of ensuring that individuals are safe from harm.
  2. Strengthening Families: This approach strives to empower families and communities by recognizing and building upon their strengths. It refrains from stigmatizing or blaming, focusing instead on collaboration.
  3. Working Collaboratively: Signs of Safety encourages collaboration among all stakeholders, including social workers, parents, children, extended family members, and community members. Effective communication and teamwork are crucial in this approach.
  4. Keeping Children Connected: Maintaining and enhancing the connections between children and their families is a core principle. It acknowledges the value of family bonds and strives to preserve them when safe and appropriate.

The Signs of Safety Framework

  1. Words and Pictures: This part of the framework involves the use of visual tools, such as safety maps and genograms, to help individuals understand their current situation better. These tools enable everyone involved to clearly see and discuss potential safety concerns and strengths within the family.
  2. Safety Mapping: Safety mapping is a process in which all stakeholders collaboratively identify and assess potential risks and safety factors in a child’s environment. It helps prioritize interventions and establish a clear plan for enhancing safety.
  3. Three Houses: The “Three Houses” tool is a way for children and young people to express their feelings, concerns, and hopes. It allows them to share their thoughts in a safe and creative manner.
  4. Safety Planning: Safety planning is the development of a detailed and actionable plan to address identified risks and concerns. It is created collaboratively with the family and other relevant parties.

Why Signs of Safety Matters for Human Beings

  1. Empowerment: Signs of Safety empowers individuals and families to take an active role in their own safety and well-being. It shifts the focus from top-down decision-making to inclusive, cooperative processes.
  2. Preserving Family Bonds: This approach recognizes the importance of maintaining connections within families, acknowledging that familial relationships often provide vital support systems for children and adults alike.
  3. Community Involvement: By involving community members and extended family in safety planning, Signs of Safety fosters a sense of responsibility and shared ownership of the safety and welfare of vulnerable individuals.
  4. Holistic Approach: It takes into account the multifaceted nature of safety, addressing not only immediate risks but also long-term well-being and permanency.


In a world where safety is a fundamental need for human beings, the Signs of Safety approach stands as a beacon of hope. It offers a way to create secure and nurturing environments while preserving family bonds and empowering individuals and communities. By adhering to its principles and using its framework, we can work together to ensure the safety, well-being, and happiness of all. Remember, safety is not a destination but a journey, and Signs of Safety lights the way.

Leave a comment