Department for Community Based Services

Standards of Practice Online Manual

7.2 CPS Safety Planning

Cabinet for Health and Family Services

Department for Community Based Services
Division of Protection and Permanency
Standards of Practice Online Manual
7.2 CPS Safety Planning

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​Legal Authority/Introduction


The Cabinet for Health and Family Services (Cabinet/CHFS) is statutorily mandated to offer services to protect children from abuse, neglect, and dependency.  Safety planning is utilized to address immediate safety factors, and can be completed during investigations as well as in ongoing casework when additional safety factors are identified.  Safety planning is voluntary and the content of the plan should be negotiated, and agreed upon with the family and all involved parties.  Additionally, the plan should be specific, detailed, and practical in addressing identified safety factors.  Safety plans can be reviewed and revised as needed, but must be renegotiated with the family at least every fourteen (14) working days if the tasks on the safety plan continue to be necessary.

Safety refers to a current condition within a home or family and considers whether or not there is an immediate threat of danger to a child.  A threat of danger refers to a specific family situation that is out of control, imminent, and likely to have severe effects on a child.  A child is assessed to be safe when there is no threat of danger within the family or home, or, if such a threat does exist, the family has sufficient protective capacities to protect the child and manage the threat.

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.

Practice Guidance

  1. Safety plans are utilized when safety threats  and high-risk patterns of behavior are identified during an investigation or during ongoing casework and the intervention results in limiting and/or restricting parental/custodial rights, including:
    1. When the SSW believes the child(ren)’s safety may be compromised and the child remains in the home/setting;
    2. When the child(ren) is being temporarily placed with a relative/fictive kin due to safety concerns;
    3. When a child has been identified as being at serious or imminent risk of removal (472)(i)(2) of the Social Security Act);   
    4. When there are significant changes in the family including but not limited to; removal of a child, household member change, change of residence, supervision specifications, etc.; or
    5. When the SSW has identified the need to limit and/or restrict a parent or caregivers use of corporal punishment.
  2. The preferred method for completing the safety plan is through the TWIST offline application, which can be accessed with or without internet connection.


The SSW:

  1. Prior to the negotiation of the safety plan, consults with the FSOS to determine if a safety plan is necessary and appropriate for the needs of the family;
  2. Negotiates the safety plan with the family and other relevant individuals involved, and informs the family that the plan will be renegotiated or expire within fourteen (14) working days;
  3. Ensures the safety plan:
    1. Includes services that can assist the family to prevent abuse or neglect and maintain the child(ren) in the home;
    2. Includes clear and concise safety goals with start and end times to expire no later than fourteen (14) working days of negotiation;
    3. Is signed by the parents and/or persons exercising custodial control;
    4. Is signed by all persons who have assigned tasks and are involved with the plan including persons assuming a caregiving and/or supervisory role; and
    5. Does not substitute for filing a petition with the juvenile/family court when there are long-term protection needs.
  4. Negotiates immediate safety threats with the family including but not limited to:

    1. Specific threats to a child's health and/or safety;
    2. The caregiver's high risk behaviors which may include:
      1. Substance misuse;
      2. Violence;
      3. Mental health issues; and/or
      4. Cognitive disabilities. 
    3. Dangerous family situations and maltreatment.
  5. Includes monitoring by those who participated in the planning process;
  6. Does not include monitoring of any portion of a safety plan without all participant's explicit knowledge and written consent;
  7. Ensures that all parties involved in the plan receive a copy of the safety plan by using the individual's preference of (email, text, picture, and/or hard copy) and provides a copy to the following:
    1. Family members, including children of appropriate age;
    2. Alleged perpetrators (when safe to do so);
    3. Relatives, fictive kin, other caregivers; and
    4. Community partners involved. 
  8. Incorporates the agreed upon tasks that the family will follow to address immediate dangerous family situations and high risk behaviors into the:
    1. Case plan for an investigation that is transferred for ongoing services; or
    2. Aftercare plan, as appropriate.
  9. Ensures that the safety plan is signed and dated by all involved parties and files a copy of the safety plan in the hardcopy case file;
  10. Renegotiates the safety plan every fourteen (14) working days if safety threats remain or whenever a significant change occurs;
  11. Immediately consults with the FSOS to discuss the discontinuance of the safety plan when the safety threats requiring the provisions within the safety plan have been mitigated prior to the fourteen (14) working day expiration of the plan; and
  12. If it is determined that the safety plan should be discontinued prior to the expiration date on the safety plan, informs the family by conducting a phone call with the parent/caregiver and any other involved individuals within forty eight (48) hours. If family is not available by phone within forty eight (48) hours, SSW will send notification by mail or conduct a home visit. 


  1. Reviews the content of the safety plan as soon as possible to ensure the tasks are consistent with the outlined procedure, appropriate to the needs of the family, and that all necessary parties have signed and agreed to the plan. If the plan includes an agreement that a child(ren) will be placed outside of the home, the FSOS ensures that the recommendations from the safety and risk consultation are included on the plan.
  2. Prior to the negotiation of the safety plan, initiates the safety and risk consultation process if the child(ren) is to be placed outside of the home.

Contingencies and Clarifications

  1. For cases involving a substance-affected-infant, ensures the safety plan content includes the requirements specified in SOP 1.15 Working with Families Affected by Substance Misuse (CAPTA 106(b)(2)(B)(ii) and (iii)). 
  2. In specialized investigations, tasks may be identified to include other individuals.  Others who may agree to participate in the monitoring of the plan may include the following:
    1. Child;
    2. Parent(s);
    3. Investigating SSW; 
    4. Recruitment and certification (R&C) SSW;
    5. Superintendent, facility or program director, administrator or designee;
    6. Treatment provider; 
    7. Teachers or child care staff;
    8. Private agency staff who serve the child or foster/adoptive resource home;
    9. Child’s ongoing SSW; and
    10. Alleged perpetrator.
  3. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) will not provide monitoring on safety plans. 
  4. Follow procedures in SOP 5.1 Relative and Fictive Kin Placement Consideration regarding requirements for placement with a relative/fictive kin. 
  5. For families who do not have access to email or the ability to receive a copy of the signed safety plan by text, the SSW should complete the appropriate plan using the template linked within this SOP.  The hard copy should be left with the family.  The SSW should take a picture of the signed plan with their tablet and upload into TWIST. 




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