Embracing the Signs of Safety Practice Model

In our journey towards becoming a successful, culturally competent, strength-based fully delegated Métis child and family services agency serving the Métis population within the Kamloops and Merritt areas, we committed ourselves to doing things differently.   Together, our Board of Directors and staff engaged in an examination of best practices.  Through this examination, we concluded that the Signs of Safety Model of Practice created by Andrew Turnell and Steve Edwards of Australia best reflects the values and practice philosophy that would enable us to do things differently and transform how child welfare services were delivered to our Métis children and families.

Signs of Safety is a solution focused brief therapy approach to child protection and family wellness work.  Drawing on the strengths of family and the Aboriginal community, safety and wellbeing can be created for children and their families during times of crisis.  It is a loving and respectful approach to child and family wellness and allows workers to build relationships with people while helping them discover their unique gifts, talents and strengths as well as to connect them to their family and community.

For decades, First Nations and Métis children have been over-represented in the foster care system, but for those agencies who have adopted the Signs of Safety approach, the number of children entering care is being drastically reduced.  Not only are families seeing the benefits of this practice model, but workers are also finding an increased sense of understanding about families and their problems leading to greater job satisfaction.

Over the past year, LMO has engaged in a practice mentorship project with Ktunaxa Kinbasket Child and Family Services (KKCFS).  KKCFS is one of the fully delegated Aboriginal child and family services agencies in the province of BC that has experienced tremendous success by adopting Signs of Safety.  Since embracing Signs of Safety, KKCFS has witnessed a drastic shift in how children and families respond to their services.  Ktunaxa Elders have commented that staff is doing things the “old way” which is good for the community and can be translated into decolonization in practice.

This is where we must begin in order to achieve true healing within our families.  So many of the Métis children and families we encounter in our work are lost; emotionally, mentally culturally and spiritually.  Staff is motivated to initiate change in how services are delivered to our Métis People and our Elders are calling upon us to do so and want to be involved in how this occurs.

We are incredibly grateful for the tremendous support we have received from KKCFS and to their willingness to share their journey with us.   The year ahead promises continued mentorship that we are confident will result in positive outcomes for our children, youth and families we serve.