The second wave Signs of Safety England Innovation Project (EIP) was launched on 29 September 2017 with leaders from the ten local authorities (Bexley, Brent, Bristol, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Wakefield, West Sussex and Wokingham) coming together with Munro, Turnell and Murphy Child Protection Consulting (MTM) and their colleagues at the first quarterly leaders workshop for the project. The EIP will run for the next two years through to September 2019.
The EIP will support the local authorities to complete their implementations of Signs of Safety and looks to demonstrate, through action research and external evaluation, what makes the Signs of Safety practice and its implementation work.
The focus is on the most challenging practice and alignment developments with which all agencies struggle. These were chosen by and tested with the local authorities, and are:
Safety planning and safety networks – building safety networks that draw on extended family and social supports with the network owning and implementing the safety plan and being there for the child over the long haul. This development will see the introduction of Kevin Campbell’s Family Finding to England.
Case management process alignment – aligning prescribed case management processes (reflected in forms and procedures and practice guidance) with the actual practice that occurs with families and children using the Signs of Safety. Lincolnshire, as a Partner in Practice agency, has been given additional support to spearhead this development.
Further developing and implementing the Signs of Safety quality assurance system – aligning ingrained quality assurance systems with Signs of Safety practice and enhancing learning cycles that improve practice and organisational development. This involves MTM funding the development of new systems.
What will be happening with local authorities as part of EIP2?
- Leaders workshops each quarter bringing together the key leaders of the local authorities to share and develop practice, knowledge and strategies
- Practice Leader development sessions quarterly (drawing on the Signs of Safety Learning and Development Team Trajectory)
- Family Finding training focussing on strategies to build networks of extended family and social supports (in May and June 2018)
- Targeted training on safety planning and networks to meet the needs of individual local authorities
- Coaching support for providing in-house basic Signs of Safety training
- Organisational consultancy with quarterly visits and monthly calls with the key leadership groups, focussing on implementation of the EIP key deliverables and Signs of Safety overall (drawing on the Signs of Safety Leadership Development Trajectory)
- Access to the Signs of Safety Knowledge Bank (of practice and implementation resources) provided by MTM
- Development of a Learning Lab at Wokingham to provide consultation on learning cases in open sessions in which all authorities can participate.
Local authority implementation journeys and current goals
Signs of Safety implementation is envisaged as involving a long-term, five-year commitment beginning with an initial two-year period of intense activity, itself following a substantial period of preparation. It is a journey of continuous improvement and most organisations experience the need to ‘reboot’ their implementations at strategic points.
Each local authority is at a different stage in their journey towards full implementation of Signs of Safety. As such, at the leaders workshop each authority identified specific goals for their continuing implementation that are essential to succeeding with the key deliverables of EIP2. These goals and some of the key measures for local authorities included:
- Making sure analysis is explicit in mapping (assessment and planning) identifying past harm, future danger and safety goals
- Improving analysis in practice and clarity in safety planning
- Being clear on the local authorities’ bottom lines in safety plans and that families own safety plans
- Consistency of practice across social care
- Extension of Signs of Safety practice across early help and looked after children services
- Back to basics with partners sharing the practice
- Aligning statutory guidance and processes with the Signs of Safety practice expected of staff
- Better understanding and support of kinship arrangements involving the immediate care of children by families
- Aligning service delivery and budget constraints
- Developing the confidence of staff to build networks of extended family and social supports
- Bringing the right children into care; looking to do so at a younger age
- Building a children’s services workforce that is knowledgeable, confident and capable
- Reduce the number of children coming through the statutory front door
- Reduce repeat child protection plans
- Reduce re-referrals to statutory services
- Reduce the number of children coming into care
- Fewer older children coming into care
- Shorter periods of statutory involvement
- Reduction in court proceedings (20% target)
- The annual staff health check, quality assurance and staff and family feedback indicating quality services
- Osfted inspection ratings and peer review assessments
Prior to the launch of the EIP all ten local authorities reviewed their Signs of Safety implementations against the implementation framework and developed renewed draft implementation plans in line with the framework and emphasising the key deliverables of EIP.
Local authorities agreed at the workshop to share their draft plans across the group. Over the next few months they will ‘road test’ their plans across their agencies and refine them in response to feedback as well as making sure that the EIP deliverables are clearly highlighted in the context of full implementation. Final plans will be ready before the December leaders workshop.