Walking the tightrope: using power and authority in child welfare supervision

Child Welfare. 2008;87(6):141-57.


Recognizing the importance of understanding the way in which supervisors in child welfare perceive their administrative responsibilities and use power and authority, an exploratory study was conducted. Supervisors in child welfare agencies in urban and rural settings participated in focus groups and discussed the impact of macro and micro factors on their performance. Policy changes, including using new approaches to child welfare and organizational culture had a major affect on the way they offered supervision. At the micro level, their use of power was related to elements in their relationships with frontline workers and their own professional development. Implications for child welfare practice and for new and experienced supervisors are presented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Welfare*
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Power, Psychological*
  • Professional Role*
  • Social Responsibility*
  • Social Work*