A safety plan is a written agreement that the child protective services (CPS) caseworker develops with the family that clearly describes the safety services that will be used to manage threats to a child’s safety. Safety services assist families to engage in actions or activities that may logically eliminate or mitigate threats to the child’s safety. These activities must be planned realistically so that they are feasible and sustainable for the family over time. The safety plan will clearly outline what these actions and activities are, who is responsible for undertaking them, and under what conditions they will take place. It is designed to control threats to the child’s safety using the least intrusive means possible.
In all cases, the safety services outlined in the safety plan must have an immediate effect and be immediately available and accessible. They may be formal or informal: the services can be provided by professionals, such as child care providers, parent/homemaker aides, or public health nurses, or by non-professionals such as neighbors or relatives. The important thing is that everyone who is part of the safety plan understands his or her role and is able and willing to carry out their responsibilities.
A safety plan differs from a case plan in that a safety plan is designed to control safety threats and have an immediate effect, while a case plan seeks to create change over time to reduce risk and increase the family’s capacity to protect the child. The safety plan must stay in effect as long as the threats to child safety exist and the family remains unable to provide for the child’s safety.