Ensuring the safety and care of children is the responsibility of carers in partnership with a child’s Caseworker. On a day-to-day basis, carers should know the whereabouts of a child – whether they are at school, visiting friends, on contact visits with family, playing sports or engaged in other leisure activities. However ‘safety’ includes the physical and emotional safety of children and, because of their past experiences, children in care may have difficulty understanding whether a situation is, or is not, safe, risky or dangerous.
The 7 Steps to Safety kit can help you to consider the safety needs of children in your care and to create safe physical and emotional environments for them. The kit has a range of activities, information and tips that can help you to give children the skills and confidence they need to be and feel safe. Each of the following steps covers a different area of ‘safety’ and you can choose the steps and activities that suit the needs of your family and the children in your care:
Step 1: Make Your Place Safe - gives families tips to help make their house and yard safe for children. It includes a fire drill, so everyone will know what to do if there is a fire in your home. (The Kidsafe NT website also has lots of information on safety for children in the home, yard, playground, car and at school.)
Step 2: Cool Tools for Family Rules - provides ideas on how families can make rules together that can guide children’s behaviour and help them to make safe and responsible decisions. Families can make their own 'Our Family Rules!' chart.
Step 3: Feel Safe with People - helps families teach children what to do if they feel scared or uncomfortable with someone. Children can make their own 'Helper Plan' so they'll know who to talk to if they feel frightened or worried. This step is especially important for children in care, as they can find it hard to accurately 'read' other people's tones of voice or body language and assess situations. This step can help them learn to recognise when they are feeling unsafe, scared or anxious and give them some strategies about what to do. (The Bravehearts website has more information about how you can support children with this).
Step 4: What's Special About Our Family? - helps families work out their own needs and circumstances as they plan for their children's care and safety.
Step 5: Emergency - helps families teach children what to do in an emergency: how to recognise an emergency; how and when to ring 000; and how to make an 'Emergency Contacts’ list that's right for them.
Step 6: Ready Yet? - helps families work out if children are ready to spend time at home on their own.
Step 7: Make a Care Plan - helps families make a 'Care Plan' so that they can feel confident that children will be well cared for if something happens and carers suddenly can't be there to look after them.
Here are some other things you can do:
Have a family calendar or whiteboard to help everyone to keep track of the household’s movements
Agree that children will telephone you if they are going to be late home. (This is a common courtesy that the whole household could consider observing.)
Use mobile telephones or use reverse charge calling to keep in contact
Have children carry some form of identification (e.g. a card in a wallet with an emergency contact if required)
Help children learn where safety houses are located between school and home
Help children have a plan of action if they feel unsafe or unsure.