Step 5

Restore safety

Most parents want a better future for their child, even if things have gone wrong in the past. 

In step 5, you will start working on restoring safety within the family if the home situation is unsafe and the parents are willing to work on it. 

Points of attention

  • Create a safe situation for the children. Start working with the client yourself or involve an appropriate support facility. 
  • You can involve other organizations in order to support the well being of the children or to support the parenting skills of the parents
  • Get started with the client’s context and involve the whole family. 
  • If necessary, set up help for the children as well. 
  • If necessary, take contact with a mandated facility [Confidential Centre for Child Abuse (CCCA)] and/or the  [Youth Support Centre (YSC)].
  • Discuss parenting regularly with the client and stay alert for troubling signs. 
  • Record the progress in the client file. 

How can you restore safety yourself?

Some simple things you can do yourself as a counsellor to restore safety: 

  • Look for exceptions. There is no family in which it is unsafe all the time and everywhere. The key to change lies in these exceptions. Look at the times when the situation is safe and try to figure out why things are going well then. For example, there are times when you have a lot of fun together. How come it’s fun then? What are you doing during those times? Maybe you can do this more often? 
  • Look for details. Solutions always come from details, never from generalities. Make the unsafe situations as concrete as possible. For example, sometimes you do manage to pick up the children at the school gate and make dinner! When is that? What makes you able to do it in that moment? What could help you do this more often in the future? 
  • Formulate the concerns as concretely as possible. “I’m worried” is not concrete. “The children did not get any lunches to take to school three times this week” is concrete. This immediately offers starting points to make changes. 
  • Find out what the parent wants. Things can only become safer at home if the parent is also convinced of this and wants to cooperate. What do the parents themselves want to achieve or change? For example: What would you like to change to make things better at home? What do you need to do that? Who can help you with this? 
  • Involve the network. Family, neighbours, friends play an important role in increasing the safety at home. Make arrangements with relevant people from the client’s context to keep an eye on the children’s safety. Ask people from the more extended family context to step in if the primary caregiver is sick, stressed, or unavailable. Write down the name of some security people the child or teenager can contact in case of problems. 
  • It is important that counsellors do not overstep their professional and personal boundaries and do more than they feel competent of doing. If in doubt or if you do not feel comfortable with the situation, it is advisable to call in someone else who can help or take over the situation, e.g. a colleague or an external facility with more expertise. 

What services are suitable to involve in restoring en creating a safe environment for families?

  • General practitioner
  • Community support services
  • School support services
  • Early childhood intervention services
  • Positive parenting programs
  • Mandated facilities