The Adolescent Safety Framework : Plymouth’s approach to supporting older children and young people experiencing harm outside the home.
Update November 2023: Please note the Adolescent Safety Framework is still active but is currently being reviewed. Any changes will be shared in due course.
The Adolescent Safety Framework (ASF) is a way of responding to and supporting older children and young people aged 11 – 18 (aged 25 for care leavers). It aims to understand 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 supporting at an early help, child in need, child protection and child in care level where concerns are from outside the home. In support of the ASF Plymouth Safeguarding Children Partnership has developed it’s Safeguarding Adolescents Strategy which you can find below.
Key Practice Points: Below are the key practice points for the ASF alongside a quick guide, frequently asked questions and toolkit to using appropriate language in relation to child exploitation.
- 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 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.
Please contact the MASH for advice/ guidance on young people, locations or peers and completed forms.
In relation to Persons of Concern complete the persons of concern section of the Safer Me assessment and contact the MASH.
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. Schools and Colleges Assessment Pack
Schools and Colleges Assessment Template v2 (last updated January 2022)
Staff Engagement v2 (last updated January 2022)
Parent and Carer Survey v2 (last updated January 2022)
Student Survey v2 (last updated January 2022)
Reviewing Behaviour Logs v2 (last updated January 2022)
Student Engagement Guidance Sheet v2 (last updated January 2022)
NB The above materials and resources will be updated regularly.