The Role Of Adult Social Work In Embedding A Transitional Safeguarding Approach

The role of adult social work in embedding a transitional safeguarding approach

Published: 04/06/2021

Author: Research in Practice

A new open-access briefing draws on evidence from research and knowledge from local areas to describe Transitional Safeguarding, why it is needed and how adult social work is key to developing and embedding a transitional approach to safeguarding young people into adulthood.

We are delighted to share the Bridging the Gap: transitional safeguarding and the role of social work with adults – Knowledge Briefing, co-produced by the Office of the Chief Social Worker for Adults, with Research in Practice, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, BASW, Care and Health Improvement Programme and the NWG Network, and with input from police colleagues.

Aimed at practitioners and managers within adult services, strategic leaders across local safeguarding adults partnerships, the Knowledge Briefing builds on existing work by Research in Practice and focuses particularly on the contribution of social work with adults and wider safeguarding adults colleagues to the transitional safeguarding agenda.

It pays particular attention to the harms associated with sexual and criminal exploitation, recognising that where young people are experiencing coercion and other forms of control and exploitation under 18, these experiences and the impact they have rarely stop when a person turns 18. Other key messages from the briefing include:

  • Recognising transitions for young people from adolescence into adulthood is a journey not an event, and every young person will experience this journey differently.
  • Transitional Safeguarding not simply being transition planning for people moving from children’s to adult social care services, it's about ensuring a needs-led response, which focuses on prevention, not simply eligibility. 
  • Transitional Safeguarding requires changes in practice, policy and across systems involving all agencies and social work has a particularly important role to play. 
  • Supporting young people’s safety and wellbeing during transition can offer potential economic benefits, as well as being important for the future health of society and future generations.
  • Key Transitional Safeguarding principles align with a number of social work professional and regulatory standards, and with Making Safeguarding Personal in its emphasis on a person-centred and rights-based approach to adult safeguarding.

As the Chief Social Worker for Adults, Fran Leddra, notes:

‘This is a really important, often challenging area of work and we know colleagues involved in safeguarding adults have been keen for us to produce a briefing that draws upon best practice, research and knowledge from local areas. This briefing focuses on sexual and criminal exploitation and is designed with a particular focus on social work with adults, providing key information intended to improve adult social work professional knowledge and skills in working with young people transitioning to adulthood.’

Dez Holmes, Director of Research in Practice, also discusses the role of social work with adults in an article on bridging the gap: transitional safeguarding.


Join an open access launch event (29 June), led by the Chief Social Worker for Adults, focusing on ‘bridging the gap’ – Transitional Safeguarding and the role of social work with adults.

transitional safeguarding


For young people with social care needs, transitioning from childhood to adulthood can have added pressures and challenges. View learning for practitioners in supporting ‘transitioning' young people from one service to another or into independence.
View the resources