Safety Organized Practice (SOP) is a collaborative approach that emphasizes the importance of teamwork in child welfare. SOP aims to build and strengthen partnerships with the child welfare agency and within a family by involving their informal support networks of friends and family members. A central belief of SOP is that all families have strengths. SOP uses strategies and techniques that align with the belief that a child and his or her family are the central focus, and that the partnership exists in an effort to find solutions that ensure safety, permanency, and wellbeing for children. This method combines practices from solution-focused techniques, Signs of Safety, trauma-informed practice, Structured Decision Making™ (SDM), and cultural humility.
Self-paced learning that highlights the key components of SOP.
"I have observed the three houses technique used multiple times during child abuse/neglect investigations over the past three years by Sarpy CPS workers. The benefit of this tool is obvious and has allowed us to ask questions differently. It is a low-pressure, effective tool when speaking with children. It allows us to obtain additional, reliable information from children that we may have not gotten otherwise. In one specific instance, I recall a child that was very protective of a drug/alcohol-addicted parent disclosing where her mother and boyfriend kept their heroin and how often they go to a nearby liquor store. This resulted in the children being safety-planned out of the home and State Probation violating the mother and moving her to a higher level of supervision. Before this method was used, the child was very guarded and unwilling to disclose this information. From my experience, the three houses technique is effective and a great tool to have!"
"I had a much better experience. I felt like the workers were really helpful and understanding. I felt like I had more support. It was nice to know that you guys [CFS workers] were there for me. I had a support network already there but with you there it felt more like a partnership. I don't have anything negative to say about my experience."
“I am always humbled to be included on the safety mappings. I think they do a great job of making sure everyone – family, DHHS, supports, tribes, county attorney's office, etc. are on the same page as what needs to change, how we can effectuate that, and what happens if it doesn't. I will also be amazed at sitting in with two caseworkers who told the family at the beginning – “just assume we know more than you want us to" and when the family didn't, the caseworkers demonstrated they really did. They had touched base with collateral contacts, they had done forensic interviews, they had listened to jail calls and talked with law enforcement. They clearly had done a ton of collateral work to make sure that the safety mapping was complete. I am always impressed, too, with the creativity that we display in these meetings – sometimes we don't have a lot of resources, and what and how we use them can really be impressive.
I think the safety house provides the quickest source of information for me. When a kid doesn't want mom or dad in the house, or the rules talk about not having drugs around, that's pretty telling to what has happened and where we're at. And it's touching to see how those houses change with time. My favorite is when kids are able to add safe people into their home.
Are the three wishes part of the SOP? Because that's my absolute favorite question and I look for them in every report. Perhaps more than anything else, those three answers drive home that these are kids – wishes like for tons of money, or dinosaurs, or breakfast foods for every meal make me laugh, while reminding me of the innocence that childhood should contain. And from my experience, the most common answer is to be with mom or dad, which always is a good reminder to me that for these kids, reunification is what justice looks like and I need to try to make that happen."
“It [3 Houses tool] seemed to give the child ability to safely communicate the people they fear and the people the find to be safe. The pictures provided an alternative to the “question and answer" format that can be confusing and can lead a child to conclusions they do not intend. The houses do not limit the child's expression nor does it limit the people they draw. I believe it provided relatively solid evidence from the child's eyes. Thanks for your work on this."