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Talk with children and parents

When talking to the family about the safety plan be calm, diplomatic and kind. Let the family know the challenges they face are experienced by many and it is Child Safety's job to help.

Make sure the family participates in the safety plan and has the opportunity to talk about anything on the plan won’t work, has been done before and did not work. Be mindful of language to ensure children and families understand and feel respected— as much as possible, avoid professional jargon in both conversation and recording.

The table below provides some ideas to use when talking with children and parents about safety planning:

Practice considerations Conversation ideas
Talk with the family about why immediate safety planning is important.

We have agreed when Tracy is feeling flat and can’t get out of bed, there is no one to watch and care for Tyler and he has been seen playing on a busy road.

We want to work with your family to help Tyler stay safe. Some of the things we can help with take time to organise.  In the meantime, we want to work out some things we can do straight away to start to make it safer for Tyler.

Talk to children about:

  • what they are already doing to stay safe
  • anything they are doing that may place them at greater risk.

What do you do when your mum’s feeling sad and can’t get out of bed?

Where do you go?

Who can you talk to when you are worried?

Do you know how to call the police?

You said you sometimes go outside when your mum is sad. You said you do this because you think it will make your mum happier. Mum and I are really worried that you might get hit by a car and get hurt. Let’s figure out what else to do when you’re worried.

Talk to the parents about:

  • who can be involved in their safety and support network
  • ideas for how they can talk to the children about their mental health issues
  • what has worked before when they haven’t felt well.

Who already knows about what is happening at home?

Who do you trust to support you and help keep you and the children safe?

Who has helped you in the past?

What do you think is the safest thing for your children to do if you are feeling really flat again and can’t get out of bed?
Check that any formal and informal supports named on the safety plan are willing to participate. You mentioned that you thought your mum could come stay with you for a couple of days to help out. Can I call her to see if she would be okay to do this before I write it on the safety plan? What is OK to share with Sonia? Let’s talk about anything you don’t want to share with her.


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