Safety Culture

Vermont has been working with Dr. Michael Cull and the National Partnership for Child Safety on implementing a Safety Culture in its child welfare system since 2019. The follow passage from the Praed Foundation’s 2019 Team First Guide, describes what a safety culture looks likes. 

 “Culture can be defined, measured, and changed. Culture lives in habit – the implicit routines people enact to problem solve- it is how members ‘get work done around here’. In a Safety Culture, safe and engaged teams practice six enduring habits. These teams…

  1. Spend time identifying what could go wrong.
  2. Talk about mistakes and ways to learn from them.
  3. Test change in everyday work activities.
  4. Develop an understanding of “who knows what” and communicate clearly.
  5. Appreciate colleagues and their unique skills.
  6. Make candor and respect a precondition to teamwork.

In summary, teams in a Safety Culture plan forward, reflect back, test change, communicate clearly, appreciate their colleagues and manage professionalism.”

Team as a Secure Base

A big part of Vermont’s Safety Culture implementation has been bringing the Dr. Laura Biggart’s Team as a Secure Base to Vermont.  The Team as a Secure Base model is an adapted version of Gillian Schofield and Mary Beek’s Secure Base model used in foster care, adoption, residential care, and schools and shows us that secure attachments enable us to engage with the world and help us remain resilient when life is stressful. 

The TEAM model draws from social workers’ experiences and their articulation of what helps create trust as a foundation for effective teamworking. The Team as Secure Base model can be used by supervisors, managers, and social workers to reflect on how they can behave in a way to promote a secure base for their team across five different domains: availability, sensitivity, acceptance, cooperation, and team belonging.