Historically, child protection interventions are focused on ensuring children are safe in their homes. In particular, child and family social workers assess the parent’s capacity to meet the child’s needs and keep them safe. But Dr Carlene Firmin, Head of the Contextual Safeguarding Programme at the University of Bedfordshire, has argued that the traditional child protection system is not effective at safeguarding children from risks outside of the family. As recent high-profile child sexual exploitation cases have demonstrated, children can be at risk wherever they choose to spend their time, including in schools, local fast food outlets, on the bus in or in a stairwell. Therefore, the location and context the child is in is important.

Diaz, C. 2020

The Contextual Safeguarding approach requires the engagement of a far wider range of actors including the fast food worker, the bus driver and the general public who form part of a wider holistic network of people looking out for young people alongside social workers.

Firmin, C. 2015

But do social workers have the capacity to consider all the environments where a young person spends their time or all the peers a young person may interact with outside of the child’s home? Do they have capacity to carry out assessments and interventions of not just families, but of peer groups and contexts which may increase the prevalence of harm in places such as parks, train stations or even schools? This is a very different way of working for child and family social workers.

This webinar, presented by Dr Clive Diaz from CASCADE Research Centre at Cardiff University, gives an overview of the Contextual Safeguarding Approach and considers research carried out in two local authorities that looked in depth at how effective the approach is at safeguarding young people at risk of extra familial harm.

Watch the webinar

Additional resources: Please note ExChange Wales can not be held responsible for externally produced information.

Contextual Safeguarding Network

Contextual Safeguarding Blog

Carlene Firmin Ted Talk

Sarah Jayne Blakemore Ted Talk