194284 A Conceptual Model of Supervision for Child Welfare to Promote Critical Decision Making

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 12:30 PM

Tammy Thomas, MSW, MPH , Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Mary E. Rauktis , School of Social Work, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Child welfare caseworkers, the individuals charged with protecting the safety and welfare of children, work in highly bureaucratic systems, managing large caseloads of families, all the while attempting to obtain and analyze complex information in order to make decisions about child safety. Although much attention has been focused on major decision points, such as whether to open a case for investigation or remove children from the family home, day-to-day practice is filled with numerous “smaller” decisions that can greatly impact the lives of the children (Munro, 2008). As little has been written in the scholarly literature, it is critical to examine how supervision can impact the quality of decision-making in child welfare practice. Ruch (2007) observes that the supervisory model that currently dominates child welfare practice is one “based on surveillance rather than support, with the emphasis on monitoring, management and narrowly conceived performance indicators. No longer does supervision help practitioners to connect their thinking and feeling”. (p. 372). The article will describe a supportive and reflective supervision process to be used for improved decision-making through connecting thinking and feeling. We will present a conceptual model of supervision based on behavioral decision-making theory (Simon, 1976) and research on decision-making in child welfare (Gambrill, 1997; 2008) and reflective supervisory processes (Ruch, 2007). This model is empirically rooted in the results of a qualitative study of how individual, contextual and organizational factors impact decision-making by child welfare caseworkers and supervisors.

Learning Objectives:
Participants will be able to articulate a rationale for a new model of supervision in child welfare practice Participants will be able to utilize this conceptual model in developing a supervisory practice

Keywords: Decision-Making, Children and Adolescents

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: previous research social work practitioner
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.