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2010 Jordan Institute
for Families

Vol. 15, No. 3
June 2010

Update on North Carolina's Child Welfare Supervision Advisory Committee
Supervisors Taking the Lead on Best Practices

Efforts are being made to strengthen child welfare supervision on a number of fronts. The federal government has taken a strong interest in this issue, including funding training initiatives for supervisors and offering technical assistance and resources through the Children’s Bureau Training and Technical Assistance Network. In addition, individual states, child welfare agencies, and supervisors are providing leadership in this area. That’s definitely true here in North Carolina.

Since its formation in 2007, North Carolina’s Child Welfare Supervision Advisory Committee has made important strides in shaping the future of child welfare supervision in our state. A majority of committee members are county DSS child welfare supervisors, with additional representation from the NC Division of Social Services.

An offshoot of the committee is a pilot of supervisory best practices in 10 county DSS agencies. As participating agencies implement recommended supervisory practices, the pilot group collects feedback so these practices can be enhanced for use in other DSS settings.

Committee Accomplishments
According to the Division’s Candice Britt, the committee’s accomplishments include:

  • Served as advisory group to revisions in the Structured Decision-Making (SDM) tools.
  • November 2008–present: Ongoing implementation of supervision best practices, including:
    1. Weekly contact with all staff
    2. At least 2 individual conferences per month for each supervisee
    3. Protecting that conference time by being truly available
    4. Using an agenda to guide the discussion
    5. Using a consistent tool to review case record
  • Collected baseline data from county staff on “good supervision.” The plan is to continue to collect data and monitor the impact on practice.
  • Completed a time/study analysis regarding use of supervision time
  • Created and promoted use of a supervisory tool kit site <www.ncdhhs.gov/dss/best_practices_pilot/>.
A Resource Supervisors Should Know About

Thanks to the Child Welfare Supervision Advisory Committee, supervisors in North Carolina have a new county-to-county resource for sharing tools that help them do their jobs. You can post tools or descriptions of things you’ve tried (e.g., how you are staffing cases, how cases are transferred), that may be of interest to other supervisors. You can also see what other supervisors have posted, and borrow and adapt anything you wish. No need to reinvent the wheel!

Although available now, the tool kit is not finished. According to committee co-chair Kristy Perry, “Eventually we will land on some tools or approaches that we will endorse as best practices. . . The ultimate vision is that it would be for new supervisors. That way, supervisors would have something that works that they could use right off the bat. This could be a real boon for someone moving up from line worker to supervisor.”

Although it does not specifically endorse these tools, the Division is interested in providing information that counties have found useful. You can find the tool kit at: http://www.ncdhhs.gov/dss/best_practices_pilot/

Want to share your county’s tools? Contact Candice Britt at candice.britt@dhhs.nc.gov.

Participation on the Committee
The decision to participate in the committee’s efforts is an investment that counties make on an individual basis. A meeting day away from the office every other month and participation in bi-monthly phone calls (1-2 hours) may seem challenging, particularly as resources and personnel are stretched in the current economic climate. However, according to committee co-chair Kristy Perry, “that time away from the office is worth it to the agency in terms of enhanced supervisor performance.”

“To me,” she says, “it’s really sharpening the saw while you’re gone.”

In addition to the benefits this professional network provides to supervisors and their respective counties, North Carolina stands to gain from the progressive work of this committee.

For more information on the committee, contact co-chairs Kristy Perry (Person County DSS, kperry@personcounty.net) or Bridget Happney (Mecklenburg Co. DSS, bridget.happney@mecklenburgcountync.gov), or Candice Britt (NC Division of Social Services, 919/334-1138, candice.britt@dhhs.nc.gov).