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Case Study

Philadelphia's Department of Human Services (DHS)

Stage 1: Inspiring Change in Philadelphia's Child Welfare System

LTG, with the support of Casey Family Programs, is currently assisting Philadelphia's Department of Human Services (DHS), the agency overseeing the city's child welfare system, develop training and support for its child welfare supervisors. Due to recent child fatalities, DHS has been experiencing enormous pressures to enhance the competencies of its staff. In the last quarter of 2008, LTG Partner Liz Laboy and LTG Consultant Dr. Clarice Bailey conducted a thorough assessment of existing training curricula at DHS and the findings of past workgroups. Based on this assessment, LTG has made recommendations to DHS for enhancing the stability of its supervisor workforce and its use of innovative practice models.

Phiadelphia's DHS
We Make A Difference
In The Lives Of Philadelphia's
Children And Families

LTG, in collaboration with staff from the DHS Supervisory Training Work Group, will develop and implement a comprehensive Supervisory Curriculum that integrates the nuts and bolts of supervision with its interpersonal and human components. The curriculum will address areas such as making the transition from front line worker to supervisor; effective use of the Supervisor Case Conference; and communication and time management skills. In addition, LTG will guide the work group in developing a Supervisory Procedural Manual based on the policies, procedures, and competencies covered in the modules.

A key component of LTG's work will be to build DHS's internal capacity to sustain training and support for its supervisors. To this end, LTG will identify DHS administrators and directors who will participate in Train the Trainer sessions and develop the skills to implement ongoing supervisory training.

LTG's approach is to not just provide DHS staff with skills, but to provide them an opportunity to be an integral part of developing their own curricula and the tools to support their ongoing development. LTG is committed to helping organizations that are in crisis and workers who need healing. LTG aims to help DHS staff drive out their own fears at this challenging time and reclaim the passion that brought them to this important work. Through this healing process, staff can once again feel rejuvenated to reconnect with the children and families they serve.

Stage 2: LTG Pilots Supervisory Training

LTG, with the support of Casey Family Programs is continuing the work in Philadelphia's Department of Human Services, (DHS). The first of two pilots of the 10 session Supervisory Training began on May 14, 2009 and will be completed on July 16, 2009 with a graduation.

Dr. Clarice Bailey and William Mckeithan are the LTG training facilitators and are pleased with the results so far. The participants, 20 DHS supervisors and 3 new DHS trainers who will be sustaining the internal capacity and continue to train the rest of the DHS supervisors, are fully engaged with the process.

In every session the participants have reviewed the learning from the previous session. They are invited and encouraged to talk about the current DHS realities relative to specific topics and share best practice, and discuss content that is particularly interesting to them. They have the opportunity to challenge their mental models of the world in which they work and stretch their hearts and mind. Throughout each session there are opportunities for them to reflect on their own supervisory practice and how they interact with staff, peers and senior leadership.

The methodologies being used are storytelling, establishing communities of practice and journaling.

After every session an evaluation of the day's work and the facilitator's presentation is filled out by the participants. The evaluations so far have been insightful and on target about what is working and what is not. Debriefing sessions are held with all the trainers to determine what changes are needed in the curriculum. These changes will be included in the manuals for the second pilot which begins at the end of July.

Before pilot two begins a Train-the-Trainer session will be held to assist the new trainers in their roles as facilitators. Dr. Bailey, Ms. Laboy, a principal of LTG, and William McKeithan will conduct this session.

Stage 3: LTG Broadens its Reach for Supervisory Excellence

LTG, with the support of Casey Family Programs and leadership of LTG Master Trainers Dr. Clarice Bailey and William McKeithan, is continuing its work with Philadelphia's Department of Human Services (DHS), the agency overseeing the city's child welfare system, to train and support its child welfare supervisors.

The first pilot of the 10 session Supervision for Excellence training ended on July 16 with a graduation of 20 DHS supervisors. The class of supervisors gave a presentation to more than 30 DHS Administrators, Directors, Deputy Commissioners and the DHS Commissioner Anne Marie Ambrose about their experiences in the training.

The supervisors felt that one of the most helpful aspects of the curriculum was that it was strengths-based. While the discussions they had in these ten sessions were at times draining, participants reported that their experiences with one another provided them with a sense of accomplishment at the end of each session. The content provided them with the knowledge needed to assist their workers in ultimately providing better services to the children and families they serve.

The second pilot, which ran from July 30th to October 1st, trained a class of 20 DHS Administrators. LTG and DHS felt that, since these administrators supervised four to six supervisors, each of whom had six workers in their units, having them participate in the same training that the supervisors went through would not only help them but help their subordinates.

The trainings for both pilots used the same methodology of storytelling, establishing communities of practice and journaling. While the administrators were hesitant and leery of the curriculum at first, they ultimately realized that what they learned helped them embrace their commitment to their agency and the children and families they serve. Dr. Clarice Bailey has been in both classes making any necessary changes to the curriculum, so that the final curriculum will be ready for the next two classes of supervisors.

Philadelphia DHS administrators

One of LTG's priorities has been to build DHS's capacity to provide ongoing supervisory training to its staff. To this end, William McKeithan has been training several internal DHS facilitators. Two more series of Supervision for Excellence will begin on October 6th and 8th,. Each class of 20 supervisors will be led by one internal DHS facilitator and an LTG Master Trainer (Dr. Clarice Bailey or William McKeithan). The new classes will run until the second week of December.

Stage 4: Supervision for Excellence Training, October - December 2009

After completing two successful pilots of its Supervision for Excellence training at Philadelphia's Department of Human Services (DHS), LTG trained 40 more DHS supervisors from October to December 2009. Cohorts 3 and 4 of DHS supervisors graduated on December 18 at a joint graduation ceremony. The supervisors invited their administrators and directors, as well as supervisors who had previously completed the training to attend the ceremony. DHS Commissioner Anne Marie Ambrose and Deputy Commissioner Dell Meriwether were also in attendance.

The supervisors shared very positive experiences from the training. Many of them appreciated being able to transfer their learning from the training directly into their practice. In particular, they found the DISC profile extremely helpful in strengthening their interactions with their supervisees.

The two cohorts were enthusiastic about presenting the projects they had developed as part of the training. An example of one of the projects is a plan to renovate the Child Care Intake reception room, to make it more comfortable for toddlers and teenagers. The supervisors have been managing the renovation process.

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The next cohort of DHS supervisors will begin the Supervision for Excellence training in April 2010. In the meantime, LTG is meeting with DHS and Case Family Programs to begin preparing a proposal to help DHS supervisors sustain their learning through practices that build a community of learning at DHS. Examples of practices being considered are coaching in groups and peer coaching.

Stage 5: Supervision for Excellence Training, April - June 2010

The 5th cohort of supervisors completed the Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS) "Supervision for Excellence" training and graduated on June 30, 2010 at the Temple University Center in Philadelphia, PA. The fifteen participants' supervisors and colleagues, as well as Deputy Commissioner Dell Meriwether attended the ceremony. Training facilitators Miriam Hayes from DHS's Staff Development Department and LTG's master trainer Dr. Clarice Bailey were delighted to share the class's enthusiasm for the training to the large audience in attendance. The class was offered support by Deputy Commissioner Meriwether and Rita Urwitz, Vice President of DC 47, who stated that "supervisors are the guardians of the practice".

The graduates presented their project "The Inner Circle: A Bridge to Empowerment." The Inner Circle is a support group for enhancing the professional development of social work supervisors at DHS. The goals of the group are:

  • To increase productivity
  • Gain knowledge
  • Decrease absenteeism
  • Reduce stress/burn-out
  • Address vicarious trauma
  • Promote collaboration between the multiple divisions within DHS

The first meeting of the Inner Circle group will be held on Sept. 8, 2010. Meetings will be held on the 2nd Wednesday of each month.




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