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Transcripts of Selected Group Discussions on CYC-Net

Since it's founding in 1997, the CYC-Net discussion group has been asked thousands of questions. These questions often generate many replies from people in all spheres of the Child and Youth Care profession and contain personal experiences, viewpoints, as well as recommended resources.

Below are some of the threads of discussions on varying Child and Youth Care related topics.

Questions and Responses have been reproduced verbatim.

ListenListen to this

New supervisor

I was just hired to be House Manager (Assistant Director) of a group home for adolescent girls. I am looking for resources on being a first-time supervisor – I will be supervising 15-20 front line staff. I am also looking for any tips/advice.

Michelle Merrow


Michelle, congratulations on your new position and on seeking out additional education/information. Two sources of great supervisor info are:

1. CWLA has an in-depth training and curriculum for supervision – you can check their website.
2. The Youth Work Learning Center at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee offers an advanced seminar on youth work supervision – geared for new supervisors. contact me directly and I can get you more info about the Learning Center curriculum.

Thanks and good luck
John Korsmo

You might try making contact with Jack Phelan, a practitioner and lecturer (Grant MacEwan College). He gave a great workshop at the national conference in Newfoundland 3 weeks ago, on Supervision.

All the best
Brody Cameron

A very effective model is the Walker-Trieschman Center Effective Supervisory Practice Course. It is a 36 hour certificate that has been extremely effective in our agency to help prepare newer supervisors for their role – and has also been a valuable resource as training for more experienced supervisors and supervisors from support services, nursing, etc. You can get more information by writing to here or here In addition the most recent edition of the Journal of Child and Youth Care (Vol.15- No. 2) is dedicated entirely to supervision of Child and Youth Care staff. You can get more information about how to obtain the journal from

Frank Delano
JBFCS, New York

John Korsmo described training for supervisors in the US: I was wondering if anyone had information for the same type of training offered in Ontario or Canada?

Kathleen Parker

Congratulations on the position of Team Leader! It can be a fulfilling and rewarding position. More to the point...You are likely coming to a team of people that have been established for quite some time and have worked well together. Please let them know that you want to be a part of the team and not up on a pedestal. Ask them for feedback in the early stages and be open to constructive criticism. When suggestions are offered do not take that as a personal attack and become defensive. Be appreciative of the help they give you and don't try to find something that you can criticize them on. These people will know how to run this place without you and may have even done this for a while. Let them teach you. Don't rub it in that you are above them on the ladder of success. You are part of a team, the part that guides them gently and is looked to for trust and listening. You should make it a point to always, always find positive things to point out even if it is as small as someone filled up the juice jug. If there are things frustrating you, talk to the team and ask them how they have dealt with it in the past. Above all be professional. Good luck in your new position. I am trying to adjust to a new team leader and wish that I could tell him some of this.


Michelle asked about being a first time supervisor. I am sure others will give you better advice, but for what it is worth, here's mine:

1. Start now. Too often the new supervisor hangs around, getting a feel for things, etc., before they start 'being' the supervisor. Then, if they wait too long, when they do start, staff feels some change which seems unfair after a long period of the supervisor just being there.
2. You don't have to start big. In fact, you probably shouldn't. Just by becoming the supervisor, you have changed the system. And there will be a reaction to this. So, start small, with focused conversations with staff as you get to know them, hanging out in the program, asking questions about the meaning of things, etc.
3. Hang out with intention. Hang out in the program during the busy times, when the work is going on. Be there. Get to know how the staff work when you are around. See how the kids and staff interact. Compare what you see with your beliefs. Ask.
4. Talk about supervision. Talk about what it looks like (or will), about what it means, about what you hope it will feel like. Ask about previous experiences, hopes, etc. Be clear about your model and share it. Make supervision a part of the regular conversation.
5. Don't seek friendship. Like it or not, power, authority, roles, etc., really do make a difference. Your goal is not to be friends, but to be a support. The supervisory relationship is about helping other, not about meeting our own needs to be liked.
6. Inquire after the meaning-making system – try to understand what things mean to people in the program. Every thing you do will be interpreted by others, so try to understand a little about how they give meaning to things.
7. Only make commitments you can keep. Like for example, don't go promising people you are going to meet every week if you can't do it.
8. Have your process of supervision match your desired model of practice – e.g., if you believe in the use of daily life events in practice, use the same model for supervision – don't try to be a supervisor from another field.
9 Be true to the principles of good Child and Youth Care practice.
10. Go to , in the search box enter the word supervision and read away.
11. Get a copy of the Journal of Child and Youth Care, Volume 15(2) – it is all about supervision in Child and Youth Care practice. You can see the editorial and table of contents on cyc-net under journals.
12. Let it be fun – it does not have to be a problem.
Email me off-line and I will send you a copy of an article about supervision.


So Michelle .. if you are a first-time supervisor, is that because your program just started to offer supervision? Did someone ask for supervision, and if it is a new service, how did your managers decide to pay for it? There are many of us who think we want supervision (never had it, so not sure!) but our managers say it is not necessary or too expensive. What do people out there suggest we say to managers, and how worth while is it really.


I've always felt that my job as a supervisor was to find out from my staff "what can I do to help you do your job". I've always worked from this premise and I think it has been a successful approach. No question there is a lot more to it, but this has always been a great starting point for me.

Jon Deactis

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