New briefing on transitional safeguarding

Good safeguarding practice doesn’t happen by accident – and in the same way abuse and exploitation doesn’t end at the age of 18, and yet many of the services for adults are designed to support only those people with ongoing care and support needs, explains Fran Leddra, chief social worker for adults. A new joint briefing on making Transitional Safeguarding a reality has been published by the Department of Health and Social Care and other agencies, including ADASS, LGA and BASW.

While this briefing is specifically aimed at those involved in safeguarding and social work with adults, it is intended to be a helpful resource for adult social care more generally, and for other agencies working with young people and young adults who might require support to be and feel safe. So whether you are a commissioner or provider of NHS services, a care home operator or a provider of adult social care services, this briefing is recommended reading.

The briefing describes what transitional safeguarding is, why it is needed and how adult social work can contribute to safeguarding young people transitioning into adulthood. It is intended to sit alongside the care and support statutory guidance, Working Together to Safeguard Children.

“Commissioners of services have a great deal to contribute to this [transitional safeguarding] agenda”

For example, commissioners are “uniquely placed” to:

  • ensure robust local needs analysis, so that young adults’ needs are understood and can be incorporated into service planning and reflected in local market shaping activity
  • building flexibility into commissioning frameworks, in order that key services, such as those focused on substance misuse, trauma, and mental health, are able to span the transition to adulthood allowing young people a more coherent and fluid experience
  • create opportunities, and set expectations, for local service offers and pathways to be co-produced with young adults and their families and communities
  • design joint commissioning approaches, so that adults’ and children’s services, alongside health, are maximising the impact of investment across the local system

Making transitional safeguarding a reality

The briefing is not intended to be prescriptive but to inform and inspire. Section 7 offers suggestions on how all agencies and stakeholders involved with young people and young adults can make transitional safeguarding a reality. A number of actions are highlighted for mental health practitioners, commissioners and for those leading social care/social work services at pages 28 - 31 of the briefing.


The briefing describes a safeguarding system that has retained a strikingly binary perspective of adolescence and adulthood, with current approaches “rooted in polarised views that a person is either a child or an adult, either ‘vulnerable’ or ‘not eligible’” which leaves little room for nuance, context or individual circumstance. This, the briefing explains, can be seen in learning from SARs, which has left too many young adults without support at a time when they need it.

Transitional safeguarding aims to challenge this, and is “an approach to safeguarding adolescents and young adults fluidly across developmental stages which builds on the best available evidence, learns from both children’s and adult safeguarding practice and which prepares young people for their adult lives”.

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