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Vol. 9, No. 1
October 2003

Supervision in Child Welfare

Child welfare supervisors play a key role in the recruitment, retention, and professional development of social workers. They are coaches, mentors, and evaluators responsible for the quality of services children and families receive. The tone and expectations they set in the work environment are so important that some have called them the “keepers of the culture” for their agencies.

All of this means that supervisors have a powerful influence on families and on a child welfare agency’s ability to achieve the safety, permanence, and well-being of children.

It’s a big job.

Practice Notes can’t reduce the number of things for which supervisors are responsible, but we can try to make their burden a little lighter. In this issue we do this by exploring an innovative model of child welfare supervision, by presenting ways supervisors can promote strengths-based practices in the workers they supervise, and by sharing experienced supervisors’ suggestions for surviving—and thriving—during the implementation of the Multiple Response System (MRS), a reform effort that aims to make North Carolina’s child welfare system more consistent, effective, and family-centered.


Family-Centered Supervision

A Foundation for Family-Centered Practice

Questions that Promote Family-Centered Practice

Moving to Family-Centered Supervisory Practices

Agencies Can Support Family-Centered Supervision

Tool for Assessing Your Supervisor/Work Group Leader

Snapshot of Child Welfare Supervisors in North Carolina

The Multiple Response System: Challenges and Rewards for Supervisors

Using Data in Supervision

Tools to Help Supervisors Capture Data on Family-Centered Practice

Book Recommendation : Building Solutions in Child Protective Services

References for this Issue

Click here to read or print the entire issue as a pdf file

Additional resources related to this topic:

  • The Supervisor in Child Welfare, (July 2003) a chapter by Kathleen Faller and colleagues that addresses the legal and organizational framework for the provision of child welfare services; current thinking about best practices in child welfare; managerial elements of supervision; and the challenges of transforming child welfare agencies into learning organizations.

  • Research on Family-Centered Practice: An Annotated Bibliography with Commentary (revised July 2002). To assess what is known about family-centered practice, the Institute for the Advancement of Social Work Research (IASWR), with support from the National Child Welfare Resource Center on Family-Centered Practice, developed this annotated review of 99 publications related to family-centered practice.

  • First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently. This strengths-based book by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman offers supervisors and managers many concrete suggestions for enhancing their performance and the performance of the people they supervise. (Simon & Schuster; 1999; ISBN: 0684852861).

  • Supervising Child Protective Services Caseworkers (1994) by Thomas D. Morton and Marsha K. Salus. An extensive resource on this topic available on the website of the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information.

  • Bibliography: Child Welfare Worker Mentoring Programs (October 2002) by Jerry Sherk.
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