Supervision Matters Program

About This Program

Target Population: Child welfare supervisors (any division) in Maryland's Local Departments of Social Services, who have been in their current role for 5 years or less; participants’ immediate supervisor must also simultaneously attend the companion Supervision Matters Administrator series

Program Overview

The Supervision Matters Program is a training course designed to provide the knowledge, core skills, and self-awareness that new supervisors must possess to be effective on the job. This includes:

  • Creating a vision
  • Using supervisory power effectively
  • Developing an effective relationship with upper management
  • Managing change effectively
  • Creating an environment of trust, openness and respect
  • Leveraging worker’s social and learning styles
  • Communicating expectations
  • Developing staff
  • Monitoring and evaluating worker performance
  • Providing effective feedback
  • Conducting efficient unit meetings
  • Developing teamwork
  • Managing conflict effectively
  • Providing case consultation and clinical supervision
  • Coaching staff

The training is open to supervisors in any child welfare service area who were hired or promoted within the last 5 years. A concurrent monthly one-day training is required for each supervisor’s administrator.

Elements of the program include:

  • 11 days of classroom training
  • Transfer of learning activities
  • Administrator involvement
  • Individual coaching sessions

The content of the Supervision Matters Program reflects the roles, standards and expectations of the supervisor as set forth by the Maryland Department of Human Services.

Program Goals

The goals of the Supervision Matters Program are:

  • Increase key leadership skills for newly promoted supervisors
  • Increase confidence and ability to apply leadership skills on the job while working with their individual workers and their entire teams
  • Develop relationships with other supervisors from around the state in order to support one another especially after the training component is completed
  • Increase ability to communicate effectively with their workers, colleagues, and upper management

Essential Components

The essential components of the Supervision Matters Program include:

  • Preparation and pre-screening:
    • The recommended group size is approximately 25 supervisors with two experienced trainers.
    • Supervisors are individually contacted once they have registered for the course to go over the time commitment required and to ensure their understanding of overall program goals.
    • Administrators are individually contacted to confirm their participation and to review program requirements for their involvement.
  • 11 days of classroom training:
    • Orientation Session: (1 day) (Supervisors and administrators together)
      • Purpose, structure, content and expectations of training
      • Personal/Social Style Inventory
      • Ethical duties
      • Transfer of learning
      • Experiences as a new supervisor
    • Module 1: The Supervisor as Leader and Manager (2 days)
      • Leadership/management effectiveness
      • Transitioning to the supervisory role
      • Using supervisory power effectively
      • Developing an effective relationship with upper management
      • Creating a vision
      • Promoting ownership
      • Managing change effectively
    • Module 2: Promoting the Growth, Development and Performance of Staff - Part 1 (2 days)
      • Creating an environment of trust, openness and respect
      • The learning environment, adult learning principles and learning styles
      • Communicating expectations
      • Standards of practice
      • Stages of staff development
      • New staff orientation
    • Module 3: Promoting the Growth, Development and Performance of Staff Part 2 (2 days)
      • Ladder of Inference
      • Monitoring and evaluating caseworker performance
      • Effective feedback
      • Performance management and evaluations
      • Individual development plans
      • Unsatisfactory performance
    • Module 4: Building the Foundation of Unit Performance (2 days)
      • Job satisfaction and organizational climate
      • Building the structure of the unit
      • Casework activities, structures, processes
      • Unit meetings
      • Team development and functioning
      • Understanding conflict and conflict management style
    • Module 5: Clinical Supervision and Coaching (2 days)
      • Overview of case consultation and clinical supervision
      • Connection to Family Centered Practice and Signs of Safety
      • Using the individual conference for clinical supervision
      • The supervisor’s use of coaching skills
      • Presentation of certificate
      • Catered lunch
  • Transfer of learning activities:
    • A series of three Transfer of Learning Facilitated Conversations between the supervisor, their administrator, and program trainer are an important component of the course in order to allow a time and place for constructive feedback and to support the supervisor’s progress toward mastering and using their new skills on the job.
    • Selecting a content area that the participant has already received in the classroom, the supervisor designates a specific content or skill area to address during the call.
    • The following questions are a sample of what trainers ask in order to help facilitate the conversation between the supervisor and administrator:
      • For the supervisor:
        • On scale of 1 – 10, how do you rank yourself in this skill?
        • On that same scale, how would your staff rank you?
        • Provide an example of how you demonstrate this skill?
        • Describe a worry or a hurdle that you have towards this skill mastery?
        • What are some things that you feel your administrator could do to move you towards mastery of this skill?
        • How would someone know that you had sufficiently mastered this skill?
        • What are measurable things you could do to move you closer to sufficient mastery of this skill?
      • For the administrator:
        • On scale of 1 – 10, how do you rank your supervisor in this skill?
        • Provide an example you’ve observed of the supervisor’s moment of mastery?
        • What are you worries about the skill?
        • What does it look like when you no longer have any worries about your supervisor’s performance of this skill?
        • What are specific support that you can provide to help move the supervisor to sufficient mastery of this skill?
  • Lending Library:
    • Participants have the opportunity to borrow books on a variety of leadership and management topics.
  • Administrator involvement:
    • Administrators are required to meet monthly for a companion series of training sessions so that they can best help their supervisors integrate newly acquired knowledge and skills into present.
    • Administrators are required to participate in the Transfer of Learning Facilitated Conversations.
  • Use of a variety of training modalities to accommodate a range of adult learning styles:
    • Short lectures
    • Large and small group discussions
    • Role plays
    • Other opportunities for skill practice
  • Post-training Individual coaching sessions:
    • Post-training coaching supports the transfer of learning to the workplace and allows for each supervisor to receive on-going support once the in-class training is complete.
    • The coaching component is optional and lasts approximately 6 months.
    • Coaches are required to attend a 2-day coaching skills class and apply to become a coach. Once assigned to a supervisor, they receiving on-going support from the trainers.

    Program Delivery

    Recommended Intensity:

    One full-day orientation and two full-day trainings per month for a total of 11 full days of training over the course of 5 months. Additionally, approximately 3 hours of phone consultation related to transfer of learning activities during the 5 months of training. Optional 1:1 coaching at the conclusion of the classroom training portion would involve approximately 2 hours per month for 6 months.

    Recommended Duration:

    5 months plus an optional 6 months for 1:1 coaching

    Delivery Setting

    This program is typically conducted in a(n):

    • Department of Social Services


    Supervision Matters Program includes a homework component:

    After attending the orientation module, supervisors are required to interview their administrator. It is important that a supervisor obtain a clear sense of their immediate supervisor’s personal/social style and expectations and priorities for the unit. This ensures that the lines of communication are open and that the supervisor understands how the unit functions in the larger context of the organizational structure. The following are the types of questions asked during the interview:

    • What are your expectations and priorities for my unit?
    • What is your assessment of how well my unit functions?
    • What do you see as areas for improvement?
    • How do you want to be made aware of any issues related to unit performance and individual performance issues?
    • What is your personal/social style and how can we best work together (especially if our styles are different)?

    Resources Needed to Run Program

    The typical resources for implementing the program are:

    Training room and appropriate technology

    Education and Training

    Prerequisite/Minimum Provider Qualifications

    Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) or education-level required by the child welfare agency of supervisors

    Education and Training Resources

    There is a manual that describes how to implement this program , and there is training available for this program.

    Training Contact:
    • Elisa Medina, LCSW-C, Supervisory Coaching and Training Specialist
      Child Welfare Academy

      phone: (410) 706-2321
    Training is obtained:

    Interested agencies may observe the Supervision Matters training that supervisors attend. Phone or in-person consultation on how to set it up is available. Key parts of the curriculum would be shared as permitted by the Maryland’s Department of Human Services’ Social Services Administration.

    Number of days/hours:


    Relevant Published, Peer-Reviewed Research

    Currently, there are no published, peer-reviewed research studies for Supervision Matters Program.

    Additional References

    No reference materials are currently available for Supervision Matters Program.

    Contact Information

    Jennifer L. Kelman, PhD
    Agency/Affiliation: Child Welfare Academy
    Phone: (410) 706-1442
    Elisa Medina, LCSW-C
    Title: Supervisory Coaching and Training Specialist
    Agency/Affiliation: Child Welfare Academy
    Phone: (410) 706-2321

    Date Research Evidence Last Reviewed by CEBC: August 2017

    Date Program Content Last Reviewed by Program Staff: February 2018

    Date Program Originally Loaded onto CEBC: February 2018