Children’s Aid Society of SDG

The Children’s Aid Society of the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry is situated in eastern Ontario, Canada, across the St. Lawrence River from the state of New York, USA and bordering the province of Quebec and the Mohawk territory of Akwesasne. We are one of 46 agencies in the province of Ontario mandated to provide child protection services. Our mission is the protection of children and youth from abuse and neglect while supporting their safe and healthy development within their family and community. In order to meet our mission, we incorporate our core principle – “We are here to help” – in everything we do.

 

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The Children’s Aid Society of the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry

 

We are approaching the end of year five of our intense, multi-year learning journey into the implementation of Signs of Safety. In 2008, we began our search for a strength-based model that was in line with our provincial Transformation agenda. We learned about Andrew Turnell and Signs of Safety through other agencies and by attending training in southern Ontario in 2009. Following senior management endorsement of the approach in 2010, and with the assistance and collaboration of Olmsted County Child & Family Services in Minnesota, USA, we formed our SOS Committee, established our implementation plan and immersed ourselves in training. We quickly worked on skill development in team consultation and through supervision. Because Signs of Safety is ever evolving, we worked hard to keep up with changes and incorporate them into practice.

In 2013, we had to take a step back. We had seen some problems developing since beginning implementation, and we became worried about our progress. Our greatest worry was that if we didn’t do something differently, we would fail. We are so thankful we paused, took stock and reassessed what we were doing because, as a result of this, we established a relationship with practice leaders from SafeGenerations (Connected Families) who were amazing to work with and helped us evaluate just where we were at. Surprisingly, we found out that we were exactly where we should be on the journey! We once again launched into moving Signs of Safety forward with renewed confidence and a clearer vision. We are more excited than ever about helping families and integrating Signs of Safety into our Service Delivery Model.

 

Image for "A child's voice is heard"

A child’s voice is heard: “A young girl victim of severe emotional abuse shares her feelings about her victimizer by changing her marker color to black. This little girl is very artistic and has a non-verbal learning disorder.”

 

Since then, we have made some in-roads in several areas suggesting that our practice has reached a new level. We have worked on merging the sister approaches of Family Finding and Signs of Safety. We are increasing mapping in group consultations across the agency, having more family meetings with an informed support network, using appreciative inquiry as a parallel process at all levels, redesigning our internal SOS website, hosting a community forum for our partners, and developing and delivering training for staff from orientation to safety planning. We can’t believe what a difference one year can make! Families, kids and community partners agree.

Cecilia, Child & Family Worker, shares Words & Pics with two boys: “Jack was very excited about a story written for him & his brothers by his mother who he had not seen in four months. He was the most focused I have ever seen him. He wanted more and more of the story shared, and when I would check in with him, he would tell me “I’m good – keep reading.” When the story was finished, he said the story was true and that he remembered it all. Both boys stated they wanted mommy and daddy to get back together, and believed mommy was sad because she couldn’t find daddy, and daddy didn’t know where they were. Jack wanted the judge to make a plan “already” as “I have family – why am I not living with family?” The children are now living with family in their forever home.”

Signs of Safety Leads:

Signs of Safety Committee:

 

Signs of Safety Committee

Signs of Safety Committee