Feasibility of the Signs-of-Safety Approach in the Child Protection Context of South Africa





child protection processes, continuum of care, constructive working relationships, practice model, risk and safety assessment, signs-of-safety approach


Statutory social workers rendering child protection services find themselves in a disabling environment owing to high caseloads, the lack of a skilled and stable workforce, and the lack of coordination between child protection service providers. In this article, we report on a qualitative study that aimed to explore social workers’ perspectives of the feasibility of the signs-of-safety approach in the local child protection context. Three virtual focus-group sessions were held with 29 social workers. The topics included applying the approach to all levels of the continuum of care, discussing the benefits of the approach for various processes when working with children and families, sharing obligations and accountability across formal and informal groups, and ensuring constructive work relationships with families. The participants agreed that implementing the signs-of-safety approach in the local child protection context would be feasible if frontline social workers adapted the tools, techniques and principles creatively. The participants also agreed that the signs-of-safety approach would help to improve service delivery by promoting transparency and ethical and empowering practices. The findings and supporting literature provide recommendations for implementing this international approach in the local child protection context to improve service delivery and long-term outcomes for vulnerable children.


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How to Cite

Van Staden, Chanel, and Hanelie Malan. 2023. “Feasibility of the Signs-of-Safety Approach in the Child Protection Context of South Africa”. Southern African Journal of Social Work and Social Development 35 (1):18 pages. https://doi.org/10.25159/2708-9355/10450.



Received 2021-12-06
Accepted 2022-09-12
Published 2023-05-09