Hi everyone. I'd like to introduce you to a new process that I have recently developed. The “Family Roadmap” is a highly participatory, family-centred process that is designed to help elicit the views and ideas of family members (and their safety networks), in preparation for detailed, collaborative safety planning. This collaborative assessment process can help to create a platform of shared understanding, which is necessary for professionals and families to then be able to work together to develop effective safety plans for children.
For families and their safety networks to be meaningfully involved in creating a safety plan, they must first be able in participate in a comprehensive and balanced assessment that focuses on what is happening in the family and what needs to happen in the future to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the children. The more that the family and their safety network are involved in the assessment process, the more likely it is that the family will have a sense of ownership of the safety plan and that the detailed safety plan will be achievable and relevant to the family.
Eliciting family’s views can be a difficult task for child protection professionals, particularly given that we are working in a context where family members may be angry, may have little trust in professionals and may feel anxious about the possible consequences of speaking openly. The ‘Family Roadmap’ process has been designed to help families and child protection professionals with this challenging work.
The “Family Roadmap” process is a visual process that takes place up on a wall, on a large table or on the floor and can be developed with one person, a couple or a whole group (family and safety network, for example). What’s important is that everyone who is involved in the process can see everything that is being recorded in the ‘roadmap’, so that they have the greatest possible opportunity to participate in the process. This high level of participation is the other key characteristic of the “Family Roadmap” process, as family members and safety network members are actively involved in writing and creating the family roadmap.
The ‘roadmap’ process starts by asking the family to describe a vision of what family life is like (or would be like) at its best, and this is written on a large sheet of paper and put up on the right hand side of the wall (or table). After the family have described a rich picture of life at its best, it is then often easier for them to be open in identifying what family life is like (or has been like) at its worst, which is the second step in the Family Roadmap process. These two descriptions are then placed a distance apart on the wall (or floor or table) and a scale is created between these two positions.
For readers who are familiar with the “Partnering for Safety” approach or “Signs of Safety” approach, you will recognise the connection between safety goals and ‘life at its best’ and between danger statements and ‘life at its worst’. The beginning of the family roadmap process can be used to develop the danger statements and safety goals collaboratively with the family, or if this has already happened, the collaborative danger statements and safety goals can be used in place of ‘life at its best’ and ‘life at its worst’ at each end of the family roadmap.
The process then involves the family creating a visual narrative of the journey they have already taken, from when things were at their worst for this family to where they are at present, and then a future journey toward their vision of how things would be in their family and for their children if life was at its best.
The family roadmap process is divided into a number of steps, which can all be completed in one session or can be worked through over a number of sessions. Within each step, the participants are invited to write each piece of information that has been identified on a piece of paper and to stick it on the roadmap (or the facilitator can write it on the wall).
The steps in the “family roadmap” process elicit the following information:
I have written the family roadmap process up in more detail in a booklet, which is available through my website. I'm also in the process of finishing off a training video, which shows the use of the family roadmap process with a family, and you will be able to access that from my website in the future.
Wishing you all the best in your work with families!
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