Plymouth Adolescent Safety Framework : A new way of supporting older children and young people experiencing harm outside the home is being introduced in Plymouth
A new way of responding to and supporting older children and young people aged 11 – 18 (aged 25 for care leavers) is being introduced across the city. The Adolescent Safety Framework (ASF) understands the different needs of this age group and is designed to respond to harm experienced outside the family home. Existing safeguarding systems were developed to protect children and young people from harm mainly from within the family. However there has been an increasing recognition of the different risks young people face outside the family home. This could be in their communities, within a peer group, online or in school. These risks can be described as ‘contextual’ and so the ASF is based on the principles of ‘contextual safeguarding.’ The sorts of contextual risks and threats to young people’s safety can be:
- Child sexual exploitation
- Peer exploitation
- Child criminal exploitation
- Gang Activity
- Online exploitation
Plymouth’s ASF is based on the work of Devon Children and Families Partnership’s model which is in turn based on the national Safer Me approach, the work of Hackney Children’s Services and research from The Contextual Safeguarding Network. It provides a way of assessing, planning and intervening at an early help, child in need and child protection level where concerns are from outside the home.
A Phased Approach to Introducing the ASF
A phased approach to introducing the ASF is being taken with October 2021 being an awareness raising month ready then from the 1st November 2021 for the Safer Me assessment and Safer Me/Safer Me Plus meetings to be in use. The 1st November will also see the Adolescent Safety Hub becoming operational within the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub. January 2022 will then see the start of Peer Group, Neighbourhood and School Context Conferences.
During October Plymouth Safeguarding Children Partnership is supporting single agency training sessions with a multi agency offer available from November 2021. The dates and details of the ASF multi agency training sessions are :
- Wednesday 10th November 2021 2.00pm – 4.30pm webinar via Microsoft Teams
- Monday 22nd November 2021 2.00pm – 4.30pm webinar via Microsoft Teams
- Monday 13th December 2021 2.00pm – 4.30pm webinar via Microsoft Teams
- Wednesday 19th January 2022 2.00pm – 4.30pm webinar via Microsoft Teams
- Wednesday 26th January 2022 2.00pm – 4.30pm webinar via Microsoft Teams
- Wednesday 9th February 2022 2.00pm – 4.30pm webinar via Microsoft Teams
- Wednesday 9th March 2022 2.00pm – 4.30pm webinar via Microsoft Teams
You can book a place in the usual way and can find all the information of how to book on our Training & Development page.
The ASF brings into practice new ways of doing things with the use of new terms and paperwork. So please find below more detailed information about the changes including step by step guidance and copies of the paperwork.
Key Changes to Practice Include:
- A single and holistic approach to assessment of individual children, peer groups, neighbourhoods, locations or persons of concern that guides the assessor to the correct pathway/action through the identification of vulnerabilities, behaviours, environment, relevant concerns and indicators as well as protective factors.
- The meeting formats use existing statutory thresholds to ensure safe planning at an individual level but provide an alternative approach within Early Help and Child in Need meetings and Child Protection conferences.
- This model of working at the individual level is through ‘Safer Me’ at an early help and child in need level and through ‘Safer Me Plus’ at a child protection level. It is designed to give a focus around the risks OUTSIDE of the family and maximise the participation of the young person to understand how the situation can be made safer with all agencies working together
- A single coordination hub through the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH), which will ensure timely individual safeguarding, threshold stability, analysis and support for professionals and ensures connectivity between key forums (including the MACE).
- A model of working at a wider level to improve the safety of the contextual circumstances around the child(ren). This is achieved through the Peer Group, Neighbourhood (Location) and School Context Conferences, which will be facilitated by independent Safeguarding Chairs, Safer Plymouth Chairs, and Headteachers or Designated Safeguarding Leads respectively.
A Quick Guide to the Adolescent Safety Framework is available.
An Adolescent Safety Framework Frequently Asked Questions is available.
What do I do if I have concerns about an individual young person where the risks are external to the home?
Individual assessment, planning and intervention will still take place for individual children but there will be more focus on risks and influence for that young person outside of their family. The Safer Me Assessment will be a key document in terms of understanding the broader picture of contextual risk. Where the risks to the young person are predominantly external to the home and parents/carers are doing everything they can to protect their child, a safer me approach to meetings and planning will be taken.
Safer Me Early Help is an approach to responding to need where the harm is identified as outside the family home.
Safer Me Child In Need reflects a Child in Need approach to responding to need where the harm is identified as outside the family home.
Safer Me Plus reflects a Child Protection Conference approach to responding to significant harm where the harm is identified as outside the family home.
Safer Me Child in Care meetings are a response where the harm is identified as outside the family home.
The processes and procedures that underpin these different levels of response will largely remain the same as existing frameworks. The difference will be the focus of the discussion. Assessment, planning and intervention will shift to the issues external to the home. That is not to say difficulties within the family should not be considered as there will be an interplay between the two that needs to be understood. The participation of parents/carers is key and there will be a focus on creative ways of trying to engage the young person so they remain central to decision-making and planning around their safety.
What do I do if I have concerns about a location or peer group and the risks are external to the home?
If your concern is about a location or peer group, you would refer this context into the Adolescent Safety Hub using the Safer Me Assessment. This will then be triaged by the Adolescent Safety Hub and a decision will be made as to whether it needs to proceed to a context conference.
In relation to Persons of Concern complete the persons of concern section of the Safer Me assessment and refer into the Adolescent Safety Hub.
The Adolescent Safety Framework Paperwork and Materials Include:
1. Safer Me/Safer Me Plus Pack
2. Context Conference Pack
3. Peer Group Conference Pack
4. Neighbourhood Assessment Pack
5. School Assessment Pack
NB The above materials and resources will be updated regularly.