The critical importance of supervision in child protection: Harnessing the energy of teams

The critical importance of supervision in child protection: Harnessing the energy of teams

Kate Alexander

This webinar discussed the importance of supervision in child protection, and outlined lessons from a group supervision approach adopted in NSW.

This webinar was held on 26 November 2014.

The Office of the Senior Practitioner (OSP) is a newly established function for the NSW statutory child protection system. It is the first time the Department has had a specific unit dedicated to practice leadership. The role of the office is to promote good practice, inspire, support and review the work of the frontline.

Since it started the OSP has been rolling out a new framework for child protection and out of home care service delivery called Practice First. The framework is now operational in 45 per cent of frontline offices across the state and early data show a decline in re-reporting rates and a decline in entries into care.

At its heart, Practice First is about shared decision-making and management of risk. It is based on ten principles of practice brought to life through group supervision. Frontline staff in these offices no longer have individual supervision – all significant discussions and decisions about children and adolescents are made in teams. Group supervision has been well received by staff and has signalled a very different way of working for managers.

The group supervision approach is disciplined – it is based on the case consult model from Minnesota – and assists workers articulate concerns and to be supported and receive learning from their peers. Two years down the track the OSP has seen an incredible shift in the workforce in the way they have embraced team-based work, and the framework has been refined along the way.

In this webinar, Kate Alexander will draw on the NSW experience, against a backdrop of the challenges of contemporary child protection. It will tell a story of a large statutory system working hard to reflect on its practice, the impact of its work and to harness the collective strength of its frontline.

Please take a moment to read our Webinar Frequently Asked Questions.

About the presenters

Kate Alexander

Kate Alexander is the Executive Director, Office of the Senior Practitioner for Community Services, NSW Department of Family and Community Services.

Kate has a Masters of Social Work (Family Therapy) and has worked in the Child protection field for more than 20 years in a variety of roles including therapeutic, casework and management. In 2010 Kate was awarded a Churchill Fellowship and travelled to the UK, Norway and America researching child protection systems with a focus on the skill set of the frontline work force. The Practice First model was designed by Kate and based on this research.