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2009 Jordan Institute
for Families

Vol. 14, No. 2
May 2009

Using Data in Supervision

Frontline supervisors rarely think of themselves as “users” of data. But keeping track of key data can help a supervisor, over time, gauge the strengths of individual workers—as well as identify areas needing improvement.

For child welfare workers who primarily do child protective services (CPS) assessments following an allegation of child maltreatment, supervisors can track, by worker, the number of:

  • Families where children are able to remain safely at home following a finding that requires involuntary services
  • Children placed in foster care
  • Children placed with relatives
  • Families agreeing to participate in voluntary services
  • Families who actively participate in Child and Family Team meetings
  • Families re-reported to CPS

For workers who do ongoing work with families, supervisors can track, by worker, the number of:

  • Children returning home from foster care
  • Families where children are able to remain safely at home following return from foster care (or from kin placements)
  • Children placed in adoptive settings
  • Children whose placements disrupt
  • Children who have frequent contact with birth families and siblings
  • Families who actively participate in Child and Family Team meetings

This data, updated monthly and kept over a six-month period, can help a supervisor assess and compare casework practice among his or her unit’s workers. For example, do some workers seem to rely heavily on removal and foster care placement? Do others actively seek family participation in planning? Are some workers successfully engaging families so that they accept services on a voluntary basis? Do some workers consistently have fewer placement disruptions? Are families allowed greater access to their children if they are served by a particular worker?

In most states, the child welfare system tracks much of the data on a county, regional, and statewide basis. By keeping track of how individual workers are succeeding, supervisors and workers are better able to “keep their eyes on the prize” — that is, the outcomes that are most desirable for children and families.

Follow this link <http://ssw.unc.edu/fcrp/Cspn/vol9_no1/tools.htm> to download tools for tracking the data described in this article.

Reprinted with permission from SafeKeeping: Frontline Supervision - Where The Action Is. (Winter 2003) Center for Community Partnerships in Child Welfare of the Center for the Study of Social Policy. <http://www.cssp.org/uploadFiles/safekeeping_winter03New.pdf>