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.
When I was in college all my instructors
talked about how important it is to get good supervision. Well, it does
not seem to me that there is much supervision happening – at least not
where I work.
My supervision involves meeting with my 'supervisor' once a year, if I am lucky, and is all about what I am doing wrong – or right (but mostly wrong).
Do other CYCs receive supervision? Is it only our program that does not have supervision?
What is the experience of other CYCs?
Does anyone have any ideas about what I should do. I have discussed this with other team members and they are as frustrated as I am.
I think many CYCs out there can relate to your situation. I have witnessed some great CYCs become terrible supervisors. The thing that I have learned that those who flourish on the frontline are not always cut out for supervisory roles. In saying this, I have also worked with many great supervisors.
I think the support has to come from the top and trickle down in order for supervisors to be intuitive, effective and empathic.
If I were in your position I would evaluate your agency's mission and values and talk to your supervisor about what your needs are – communication is key!
I understand the frustration and it's so easy to
fall into a chaotic mindset, especially with everyone feeling on edge.
However, I would hope that if you voice your concerns in a professional
manner, your supervisor will be understanding.
I am Counsellor in the Children Who Witness Abuse Program in British Columbia, Canada. My contract requires that I get supervision. I meet with My Clinical Supervisor once a month for an hour and a half. I find my time with my supervisor to be very beneficial and positive. I never leave supervision feeling like I did something wrong. She will give me alternatives to how I approached something, but it is always done in a positive way. I feel supervision is very important in our work. I guess the key is if your work is willing to provide it regularly and if they have the budget to do so.
This is a loaded question! I am the Coordinator of a residential program and I offer “supervision” multiple times a day to multiple staff, as do my senior staff team. What is your definition of supervision? We look at supervision as on the fly on the floor getting feedback (positive and constructive) every day from co-workers/senior staff when things arise. My door is always open and staff can ask to talk to me or other senior members of the team. It can be 5 minutes or an hour. It can be within the context of a group supervision (small or large team meetings for instance) or one to one. It can be on the floor, in the staff suite, in my office…The definition of supervision is much more than scheduling a time to meet with someone one to one behind a door for 15 minutes to an hour. I’ve done supervision via phone as that was the only time we could get together and talk. Are you looking at the opportunities afforded to you for supervision, growth and learning? It encompasses all of this.
While I agree that your supervisor should be sitting down to talk to you more than once a year, I also believe that you and your co-workers need to take opportunities to ASK for feedback from your Coordinator and more senior people on the team throughout your shifts and at the end of the day. You cannot just expect that others know what you need and expect them to come to you. Supervision should be for YOU and thus you also have a part to play in getting it. Do you ask for it? Here in my program, we strive to give our staff feedback when needed and we do meet with them but it is also their responsibility to ask for it. Some staff are good with the day to day, some staff need a sit down meeting often. Supervision looks VERY different for each staff and will look very different within each program (is it residential, community for instance?). Supervisors and staff need to work together to determine who needs what and ensure they get it. Communication is the key in our field!!
In my opinion, you and your co-workers really need to tell your supervisor what you need and work with him/her to figure out how to get it.
Hope this answers your question.
I am a CYW at a large school board here in Toronto and I have not had much experience with supervision either. You are not alone, it sounds like this is a common struggle for many. What Lorinda describes in this thread sounds like a Daily Life Events (DLE) approach to supervision, which incorporates the characteristics of Child and Youth care, and allows for consistent supervision on-the-go. I am taking a course on this now in my Master's program at Ryerson University and it is a simply brilliant approach!
It is great because it is effective and does not require much extra time built into anyone's schedule. It does require some careful thought and planning though! There is a lot of reading on this subject here on CYC-Net so I suggest you start there.
Advocate for the kind of supervision Lorinda describes in your workplace. Good luck!
Just as fellow professionals in the field have offered: Supervision is a great tool in checking how we are doing and addressing issues as it may affect colleagues, supervisor and self. Supervision can be called for by a Superior or by staff for clarification and addressing issues that requires urgent supports. Therefore, this can be done face to face, by telephone or email though mostly done in person. A lot of agencies do have supervison embedded in their policies and procedures done for instance once a month although there is no need to wait until a month to address issues that requires urgent attention or guidance hence the staff or a superior should call for a supervision as need arises.
Personally, I do not support calling for a supervison if no concerns to address resulting into wastage of time and monetary resources.
I hope you find solution to your questions.
I am a CYW (grad of 1996) and am taking the Child and Youth Care at Ryerson currently. I have had regular supervisions in most of my settings over the years and it has helped me to grow and learn as a practitioner.
Both my supervisor and I come to supervision with an agenda which includes:
Housekeeping (scheduling, booking days off, agency needs)
Brief updates on my cases (or primaries when it was residential)
Committee work or update on what I am the lead for (health and safety, diversity, student placement, etc.)
My goal areas (following up on how I am doing on my goal areas for the year, professional / clinical growth, future planning or what I have struggled with (triggers/pulls, paperwork/time management, etc.) These goals are on my performance evaluation which is reviewed yearly – done collaboratively.
Team (how I feel as part of the dynamic of the team, what is working, what can be difficult, etc.)
Other (updates and changes in the field, how supervision is going, etc.)
Supervision works well when it is relationship based
and collaborative. I have had many supervisors with different styles and
personalities. When the premise is to support and not giving direction
or giving answers, it is the most helpful. Supervision is to help the
supervisee navigate where they are at.
You are right to question supervision practices because in this field we need to always be learning. It seems that you have a couple of options in your situation:
1. Be clear with your supervisor about what you
need from supervision – you may find that it isn’t as negative if you
meet more often and it is you who is offering information. Your
supervisor will know you better – it’s all about relationship.
2. Seek out a mentor! You can grow and learn from others in the field. You need someone to check in with and feel grounded by. (respecting confidentiality of course)
Best of luck on your journey!
In my 100 years of service (ha!) I have NEVER found a time with staff when there were no “issues requiring urgent support”. Unless someone isn’t paying attention. Supervision is a “gift” and an “obligation of management” for staff, not a fire extinguisher to be used only when something threatening is happening. From my point of view, at least.
I would agree with you Lorraine. Providing supervision is an ethical responsibility of management and supervisors to do so and one that requires a "fly by the seat of your pants approach". This work we do involves that we be "on" all the time in our efforts to respond to the plethora of needs of the children while navigating through the distinct systems that may not always "get" us. So, my question is, how do we as CYC's ensure that such systems are not negating on their responsibility to provide supervision? I think this is where Don may be alluding to. I know a few colleagues who currently work in the school board who receive supervision. In a school of 500 students, with two VP's and two Guidance counselors, there is ONe CYC. What does this say?
I just caught typos that gives my reply a very
different context. Fly by the pants approach to supervision does Not
work and colleagues in Schools do Not receive supervision despite their
efforts to do so. It's not available to them
Just finished reading this thread and I found the
topic of supervision interesting. I am the Director of an early years
program and we have 13 regular staff and approx. 20 casual staff
members. I have never thought of myself as providing supervision to
anyone. Supervision too me, sounds like the role of the person who scans
a busy playground to ensure safety. I’ve always considered the
“appointed leadership” role that I get paid for as one that truly
believes people are capable and competent. We do not set out to
supervise, we set out to contribute to the success of the whole group
and to make a difference, I read a quote that said “it’s never about the
role-always about the goal.” The core of my work is a continued journey
of self-reflection, building relationships, creating and contributing to
trust and respect.
To speak to Don’s situation, I feel terrible for you Don but for as frustrating as it is for you and your coworkers, it’s sounding like the supervision position for your supervisor must be difficult for them. Perhaps he/she is not confident in the position or lacks the leadership skills and tact required to actually support people, so they are avoiding actual “supervision.” As we spend more hours at work then we do anywhere else in a week, I can only imagine your frustrations if you are not feeling supported. Perhaps you can tap into your Child and Youth Care Practitioner skills to develop a deeper relationship with this supervisor, in efforts to begin to engage them in some dialog around how you are feeling, as I agree with you Don, I do not think annual reviews are effective and I have always refused to “administer” them, as relationships aren’t built on an hour of feedback once a year (but I recognize this is common practice within many systems).
Best wishes to you Don, keep your chin up, you got this! Challenges in the work place are great learning experiences, I’ve been faced with many in my 26 years in the field and what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown from them have changed me and made me a happier person.
To respond to Donicka, for one thing never say
“everything is fine” when asked “how’s it going?”. If everything was
fine no one would be in treatment. There is always a challenge for the
young person to “work on” and always a challenge for us to figure out
how best to help them. There is always something to talk about and
always a problem solve – for us, and the clients.
I so agree, Lorraine – there has never been a time
in my career – 100 years, like you :) – where there has not been
'something important' I wanted (needed?) to discuss – I always thought
that was just the way it was – our days are filled with important events
– like children's lives – how could we not have something important to
And yet, supervision seems always to be on the bottom of the list – sad.
I also agree however I am a private clinical
supervisor and I supervise up to 30 individuals and about 12 different
programs at any one time. I am hired in and contract yearly with
agencies; or work for counsellors privately. I have done this for over
30 years and would guarantee all I work with would tell you that they
appreciate the work we do together.
I work from a Child and Youth Care stance and call my `brand' of clinical supervision `Counsellor-Centered Supervision'. (I am really trying to get time and space to write an article to clarify what this looks like for you Thom :)) You can guess though that it is a form of supervision that puts your needs as the focus, is very relational, works from an equalitarian collegial stance and offers a wide variety of possibilities to whomever is being supervised.
The reality is that I am working with all of them because they have made it a priority and not taken no for an answer; from those that set the budgets. For example for a few agencies I have a set fee per year and an agreed to number of times together. This gives the agency and the workers consistency and predictability. Part of the contract is that I am on call as well; in case a consultation is needed between appointments. Privately they pay per hour however I have a slightly lower rate for supervision to help out.
The bottom line is that I do not believe clinical supervision will be a reality for all, if you do not make it a priority and help those you work with do the same. Whatever your position is I would encourage you to speak out about the value of this component of the job. Seek out supervision yourself so you can even find someone you like and recommend them to your supervisors.
The reality of my life is that clinical supervision has only minimally ever been available on my jobsites and so I have chosen to go out and pay for it myself. Even if you are only able to do this a couple of times a year you may find, if you go to a supervisor that works well with you, that it is still a great deal of help.
Thank you for your response regarding supervision. I recently entered the business culture, after an entire career in Child and Youth care, to discover leadership not supervision approaches. You so clearly expressed the difference and the win-win of such interaction.
Social and Emotional Intelligence is an intelligence possessing an infinity of growth opportunities, unlike IQ, which is defined by genetics and has a small margin of increasing. Social and emotional development benefits the individual, as well as, their personal and professional connections with empowerment strategies. Individuals who are self-aware and have support/trust create a solid foundation to practice alternate behaviors to help individuals reach goals. If we all are trying and practicing we act as role models or "change agents."
Regardless of an individuals title, everyone of us is a person, and needs compassion. Very difficult situation you are in Don try not to fall into the abyss of negativity as it can be incredibly toxic. Challenge yourself to be a "change agent."