• child protection;
  • safety assessment;
  • partnership;
  • brief therapy


There is a worldwide trend towards increased collaboration in child protection practice which is primarily driven by researchers and policy makers. This sees child protection workers with the task of finding ways to implement the policy and build partnerships with the families they work with. The Signs of Safety approach to child protection casework, which was developed by the authors in conjunction with child protection workers in Western Australia, is designed as a practical method to foster a cooperative relationship between workers and families. This approach draws extensively on the ideas and experience of ‘brief therapy’ and is designed to be used in child protection practice from the intake and investigation stages through to case closure. This paper presents the different practice elements of the approach, the thinking that informs it as well as its application to assessment and case planning. Some case material describing the application of the approach is also presented. © 1997 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.