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Transitional Safeguarding

Transition is the process of changing from one state to another and it is experienced differently for each individual. In social care, particularly safeguarding, transition can represent a definitive change at the age of 18. On their eighteenth birthday, children legally become adults, leading to shifts in assumptions about their capacity and eligibility for support.

The complexities of safeguarding both children and adults have increased, with issues like violent crime, gang culture, domestic abuse, modern slavery, trafficking, and sexual exploitation. These issues highlight the difficulties we face in safeguarding children transitioning to adulthood.

Adversity in childhood can make some adolescents particularly vulnerable to harm, with effects that persist into adulthood. Consequently, some adolescents may need immediate support from Adults’ Services or may require it later. Research indicates that unresolved trauma can increase risks in adulthood, leading to more challenging lives and potentially higher costs for support later.

(adapted from Research in Practice, 2018)

Filmed Resources:

This short animation sets out what Transitional Safeguarding is and why it matters. It is intended to be highly accessible, rather than a resource for those who already understand Transitional Safeguarding in more detail.

This video looks at:

  • Collaboration across the whole organisation – how Transitional Safeguarding is everybody’s business
  • Whether legislation is an enabler or barrier to Transitional Safeguarding
  • How community, culture and relationships can be used as a resource to support young people sustainably over the long term.

View the video on the Research in Practice website

Learning Pathways

Learning Pathways are a new way of guiding you through connected Research in Practice key topics, supporting self-directed learning and enhancing professional development. By following a pathway you can deepen your understanding of the topic, learn how to use a number of approaches and build skills which can support you in your work with children, young people, adults and families. Each resource includes reflective questions and practice implications to build knowledge and inform your decisions.

Additional Resources

  • Transitional Safeguarding Learning Package.
  • Bridging the Gap: Transitional Safeguarding and the role of social work with adults Knowledge Briefing
  • Transitional safeguarding – adolescence to adulthood Strategic Briefing
  • Safeguarding during adolescence – the relationship between Contextual Safeguarding, Complex Safeguarding and Transitional Safeguarding briefing
  • Transitional Safeguarding: for health professionals Briefing

Reflective Questions

Here are reflective questions to stimulate conversation and support decision making, policy and practice.

  1. Are there opportunities in your organisation for all leaders to come together to consider ways to better support young people transitioning from children’s services who may need support from adults services?
  2. How do you seek out and meaningfully include the voices of the young people to ensure service design is person centred? And do you consider and measure equity in the outcomes for young people?
  3. What are the strengths and resources in your community that could support young people and how do you identify them?

(Research In Practice, 2023)