DSS Policy and Procedure Guide
Division 3: Child Welfare Chapter 02: General Administration
Item 01: Quality Supervision
Suggested changes send to: DSS PSOA Mailbox Issued: March 7, 2011
References: Replaces Issue: New
It is the policy of the Department of Social Services (DSS) that all child welfare supervisors utilize an
approach called Quality Supervision in supporting child welfare social workers to implement and
strengthen the following child welfare teaming/engagement practices: Icebreakers, Team Decision
Making and Permanency Teaming. Quality Supervision is the use of specific practice guides/tools in
reflective supervision and bi-annual case reviews with child welfare social workers.
Child welfare supervisors have four primary roles: manage, administer, support and educate. The
Quality Supervision approach promotes the supervisor’s educational function. The purpose of Quality
Supervision is to encourage and guide dialogue driven reflection between supervisors and social workers
to foster greater reliance on the social workers’ own critical thinking skills. Given the complexity of
situations faced regularly in child welfare, cultivating critical thinking through supervision is crucial to
improving child welfare social workers’ decision making, engagement and teaming skills.
Quality Supervision - refers to the method through which Fresno child welfare supervisors pursue
regular and frequent reflection with child welfare social workers about their approach to the
teaming/engagement practices of Icebreakers, Team Decision Making and Permanency Teaming.
Quality Supervision assumes that all child welfare staff embrace the following principles:
We are driven by a desire to provide the highest quality services to our families and youth,
while not losing site of our case management mandates.
We want to create a consistent and intentional process for developing staff at all levels of our
organization that mirrors our work with families—honest, strength-based and non-punitive.
We need to keep the experiences of our families, children and youth front and center at all
We want to be an anti-racist, learning organization.
We all want to grow in our knowledge and skills.
While our knowledge and skills advance with effort and time, we can always continue to
We need to take time to publicly celebrate individual and collective growth and success.
Page 1 of 4
Quality Supervision has two parts: 1) ongoing reflective supervision; and 2) case review.
Ongoing Reflective Supervision
Reflective supervision is an ongoing process of reflection through dialogue. It can and
should occur in all formal and informal interactions between supervisors and social
The following qualities of the supervisors/social workers relationship are critical to the
success of Quality Supervision: 1) frequent interaction; 2) trust; and 3) establishment of
a tone that invites difficult conversations.
Supervisors are expected to be well-versed in the four practice areas and key elements of
the Quality Supervision Practice Guide (see Attachment A) and to reflect frequently with
their workers on the quality of engagement/teaming practice.
Supervisors are expected to guide dialogue, asking open-ended questions that encourage
social workers to process through complex situations and arrive at solutions.
Following every monthly conference, supervisors should note areas of strength and areas
for development on the Quality Supervision Reflection Notes form (see Attachment B)
and attach this form to the monthly Conference Summary Report to be provided to the
Frequency of Review
Two cases (referrals for ER) per year will be reviewed for each social worker, one
every 6 months
Case Selection Process
Quality Assurance will randomly select cases
Basic Information Gathered
Review of CWS/CMS data and hard copy of case file
Who Conducts Review
Current supervisor for the case should conduct interviews and observations
A minimum of three interviews should be conducted per case
Page 2 of 4
Individuals to interview may include the child, parent(s), caregiver, other extended
family, CASA, SB163 team, therapist, FFA social worker, school personnel, etc.
The caregiver, parent, and child/youth should be the (three) parties interviewed
whenever appropriate. Other individuals to interview may include other extended
family, cultural broker, CASA, SB163 team, therapist, FFA social worker, school
Supervisors will use their discretion to determine whether it is appropriate to
interview the child given the child’s age or level of trauma.
Use the Interview Tool to conduct interviews (see Attachment C).
Whenever possible, observations should be done of an Icebreaker, TDM or PTM
Other observations could include an individual or joint meeting/engagement with a
family or youth.
Supervisors should try to observe a proactive meeting/engagement and a reactive
meeting/engagement for each case.
Use the Quality Supervision Practice Guide for observations (see Attachment A) and
document your findings using the Observation Tool (see Attachment D).
Supervisors will meet with the social workers in a supervision consultation meeting to
review their assessment, talk with the social workers about their own reflections and
discuss implications for development.
Supervisors will complete a summary of the review (use the Case Review Rating
Summary, see Attachment E), including findings from the observation and interview.
There will be no scores.
Supervisors will complete a bi-annual report (every six months) for their Program
Manager, summarizing the aggregate themes from all of the reviews in the sixth
month period (see Attachment F).
After discussing the summaries with their supervisors, each Program Manager will
write a report to the Child Welfare Deputy summarizing the aggregate themes across
Use of Findings
Twice a year, DSS Director, Child Welfare Deputy Director and Program Managers will dedicate a
Management Team Meeting to discussing the findings from the reviews. The team will discuss and
document steps/actions needed to support further staff development.
Periodic Review of Quality Supervision Process
Child Welfare Quality Assurance (QA) will do a 6 month interim review of the quality supervision
process and a 12 month comprehensive review. QA will develop a report for the Supervisory and
Management Teams, recommending improvement to the quality supervision process.
Page 3 of 4
Consistently communicate our focus and stay on track
Provide constructive feedback and make sure the information gleaned from the reviews is
useful and is used
Clarify expectations and support for all
Model practice and affirm good work
Hold supervisors and workers accountable
Do reflective dialogue and case reviews
Be open and honest with workers
Lift up issues/challenges/concerns to managers
Set clear expectations for staff
Hold workers accountable
Distinguish case review from performance review and help staff understand how the two
relate to each other
Welcome coaching and feedback which is designed to enhance effectiveness
Receive help in managing stress
Practice time management
Make sure case information is current
Lift up issues/challenges to supervisors
Page 4 of 4