Supervision is defined as a “goal directed, contractual, interpersonal relationship which has jurisdiction over all aspects of a supervisee’s job responsibilities, performance and organisational interpersonal functioning” (NACCW, 1998: 5). This definition suggests that the supervisor needs to be involved in all aspects of the supervisee’s job resulting in proactive on-line supervision.

Garfat (2003) has suggested that supervisory interactions should be an opportunity to help workers learn about the “doing” of their work through experiencing a similar process in the relationship with their supervisor. He suggests that where there is incongruence between the programme approach to child and youth care and what the worker experiences in relationship with the supervisor, then “confusion walks through the door and practice suffers”. The relationship between what the supervisee experiences and what the young person experiences, is related to the concept of parallel process, which has its origins in the psychoanalytic concepts of transference and counter- transference. This has also been described as mirroring wherein the relationship between the client and worker is often reflected in the relationship between the worker and the supervisor. The dynamic interactions that belong and originate in one area of relationship are acted out in an adjacent area as though they belonged there (Hughes & Pengelly, 1997: 83). This process can also work in the other direction which means that dynamics originating within the supervisory relationship may become mirrored in a worker’s behaviour with an individual or family.
For the community child and youth care workers to give vulnerable young people what they need, the workers will require recognition, positive feedback and support from their supervisors (Maluccio, 1991: 61). In practice this means that if there are characteristics of a child and youth care approach in working with young people and /or their families then these same characteristics should apply to the supervisory relationships. Supervision should reflect the approach that the child and youth care workers are expected to use with the young people, as the more it does this the more the child and youth care worker learns the approach.

Thus the Isibindi model should ensure that the supervisors are community based and not office bound, that they fully understand the child and youth care profession, and are qualified child and youth care professionals. They should understand the characteristics of a child and youth care approach to working with young people and/or their families as well as be able to demonstrate these characteristics in their child and youth care supervisory practice.



Scott, K. (2005)  Supervisory requirements within the Isibindi model, in Garfat, T. and Gannon, B. (eds.) Aspects of Child and Youth Care Practice in the South African Context. Cape Town: Pretext, pp.94-110

















Garfat, T. (2003). Editorial: Congruence between Supervision and Practice. Available on the Internet at:

Hughes, L & Pengelly P. (1997). Staff Supervision in a Turbulent Environment: Managing Process and Task in Front-line Services, United Kingdom: Kingsley

Maluccio, A. N. (1991). Interpersonal and Group Life in Residential Care: A Competence-Centered, Ecological Perspective. In J. Beker & Z. Eisikovits, (Eds.), Knowledge utilization in residential child and youth care practice, (49 -62). Washington, D.C.: Child Welfare League of America.

NACCW. (1998). Consultative Supervision Training. Cape Town: NACCW