The Forum

Connecting Ohio Child Welfare Supervisors


April 2011

Greetings from the Ohio Child Welfare Training Program!

In 2010, many of you participated in a survey in which you were asked whether you'd be interested in a newsletter devoted to child welfare supervision issues. The overwhelming response was "yes!"  You also said you'd prefer an electronic newsletter distributed three or four times a year; that feature information on Transfer of Learning; highlight promising practices within Ohio, and share supervisor tools and training opportunities.

Today, we introduce the first edition of your newsletter, The Forum, and we hope you find its contents helpful to your practice. We invite your feedback and suggested topics for future editions. We also encourage you to share your own practice ideas and/or tools. And, if you want to acknowledge the excellence of one of your colleagues in the state, let us hear about that, too!

Supporting Transfer of Learning (TOL): Effective Use of Home Visits

The transfer of learning from training to the workplace is essential to the delivery of high quality services. For supervisors, developing their skills and those of their staff is paramount to ensuring the safety, permanency, and well-being for the children they serve.  While much of the knowledge needed to do this is gained in training and through other learning activities, supervisors need to know how to ensure that knowledge is transferred and applied on the job.  They also have to be able to identify when they or their staff need additional development in a particular area, and be able to support that development.   

This article focuses on transfer of learning around caseworkers' effective use of home visits with children and families.  Transfer of Learning around home visits was identified as a need by many supervisors around the state and in the most recent CFSR.    When new staff are hired and best practices change, supervisors sometimes have to identify ways to increase their own knowledge of a particular topic in order to support their staff.  Here are a few ways supervisors can increase their knowledge about home visits:

  • Attend the Supervisor Learning Lab, Promoting Critical Thinking in Casework Practice
  • Attend caseworker training on home visits
  • Review the information in Caseworker Core regarding home visits

Although Caseworker Core provides all new caseworkers with foundational knowledge and skills, they will need additional training in order to meet ongoing practice needs.  Here are some learning opportunities to help caseworkers increase their knowledge about home visits:

  • Attend classroom training on home visits
  • Participate in the distance learning on effective use of home visits-- Click here to learn how you can pariticipate in the pilot
  • Shadow other workers who use home visits effectively
  • Review supervisor expectations about home visits during unit meetings or case conferences

There are things supervisors can do to help caseworkers transfer what they learn in training to practice:

  • Prior to training, supervisors can help caseworkers identify what they need to learn from the training, and when they return, talk with them to determine if they learned what they needed to learn.
  • After training, supervisors can ask caseworkers to share what they learned with their fellow workers in a unit meeting or some other setting. Sometimes people learn things better when they have to educate others.
  • Supervisors can help caseworkers make a plan for using the new knowledge and skills on home visits.  When they return from the home visit, supervisors can talk with them about what worked, what didn't work, why they think things happened as they did, and what they think they could do differently next time to get better results.
  • Supervisors can go with caseworkers on home visits, observe them, and offer feedback about ways to improve, or what they might do differently.
  • Supervisors can discuss home visits with their staff in individual case conferences and group staffings. 

These are just a few suggestions for how supervisors might help caseworkers transfer what they learn about home visits to practice.  It is likely that you have other tools and strategies that you use.  If you do something different with caseworker home visits that might be helpful to others, or have experience using tools that you'd like to share, drop us a note at  We'll be glad to make your suggestions available to other supervisors in the state.

Free Online Training for Child Welfare Supervisors

The National Child Welfare Workforce Institute provides free online training for child welfare supervisors.  Visit the link below to learn more.      


In This Issue
Transfer of Learning
The OCWTP Working for You

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Other Ways the OCWTP is Working for You...

In November 2010, the OCWTP formed a new work group to focus on supervisor issues and how the OCWTP training system can help address those issues. The OCWTP is committed to finding ways to support supervisors as well as providing the kinds of training that will be the most beneficial to them.


The work team will examine the role of supervisors: their needs, training topics that would be helpful to them, and the types of support they require. It will also look at what resources supervisors currently have available to them, consider the strengths of those resources, and look at where there may be deficiencies.


Members of the work team include:


Karen Setterlin, Franklin 

Vincent Ciola, Logan

Jeff Rulon, Highland

Rhonda Hinkle, Muskingum

Natalie Trachsel, Lorain

Robin Freedman, Summit

Valerie Carpico, Fairfield

Dana Dravenstott, Lorain

Rodney Traxler, Wyandot

Chris Cross, North Central Ohio Regional Training Center

Dale Hotaling, Western Ohio Regional Training Center

Alison Rodgers, Central Ohio Regional Training Center

Mary Kay Hawkins, IHS

Lois Tyler, IHS

Stacey Saunders-Adams, IHS

Sandy Parker, IHS


If you're interested in participating on this work team, please contact Sandy Parker at the Institute for Human Services (614-251-6000). 


 Supervisors Are Coaches, Too!


Effective child welfare supervisors understand the importance of addressing common work place issues such as job performance, staff morale, and turnover. They realize that the more successful they are in meeting their job responsibilities, the more successful caseworkers will be in helping protect children and strengthen families. As a result, supervisors spend much of their time identifying barriers to job performance; doing whatever possible to remove those barriers; focusing on and utilizing the strengths and skills of their unit members; and finding creative ways to boost staff confidence and motivation.


One way supervisors do their job is by "coaching" their staff. Child welfare supervisors act as coaches whenever they:

  • Orient and train new staff

    Coaching Image

  • Give advice
  • Help staff organize their time
  • Share information about practice, policy, or procedure changes
  • Help staff integrate new knowledge and skills
  • Communicate what is expected
  • Define level of performance standards
  • Explain and model what desired performance looks like
  • Use mistakes as learning opportunities, and
  • Continuously observe, review, and provide feedback


Developing one's coaching skills is a wise investment of time. As supervisors practice and improve their coaching skills, they will see the benefits quickly pay off. Their staff will also enjoy greater success in their work, and thus, increased job satisfaction.


Being an effective coach/supervisor includes knowing when it might be best to utilize the expertise and assistance of others. Depending on the issue needing addressed, the goal to be achieved, the number of staff that need to be involved, and the amount of time available, supervisors may consider it more expedient to arrange for coaching to be done by a third party. To help determine whether this would the best option, supervisors can contact their Regional Training Center (RTC) coordinator for more information. RTC coordinators can assist not only with assessing the need, but can also arrange for the availability of a coach.


If you're interested in completing an assessment of your own supervisory coaching skills, go to:


You can find more information on the OCWTP Coaching Program at:



Working for You


The OCWTP is now offering a different kind of learning opportunity for supervisors and staff called the CAPMIS Tool Kit.  This Tool Kit is a compilation of resources and skill-building activities designed to support CAPMIS implementation.  Additionally, the Tool Kit activities and resources can be provided in a variety of ways - classroom workshops, in-house coaching, distance learning, self-study, or a combination of all.   


Supervisors will likely want to start by identifing caseworkers' learning needs, either from conversations with them, CPOE findings, a CAPMIS Quiz, or a CAPMIS Self-Assessment Inventory (Available online in June, or email for earlier access).  Supervisors can send staff to specialized CAPMIS workshops or use the Tool Kit materials themselves within their own agency.


Lifting UPHere are some examples:


Guiding the CAPMIS Process is an interactive PowerPoint course for supervisors/coaches responsible for guiding caseworkers through CAPMIS assessments and decision-making. The objective is to enhance skills in understanding the CAPMIS process, the purpose of CAPMIS tools, what information is needed, and how it is to be used.  As a classroom workshop or as a self-directed PowerPoint course supervisors can deliver in-house, learners are guided through six video vignettes of a Supervisor and Caseworker conferencing on a case.  


Write It Right is a writing course intended to build skills in developing accurate and effective casework documentation, case activity recording, service provider summaries, court reports, etc.  It can be offered by a trainer in a classroom, by coaches with individual staff, or by supervisors with their unit.  Participants will discuss and practice ten tips on what to write and how to write it.  This is a fun, interactive learning experience with child welfare case examples, CAPMIS constructs, and practice worksheets.    


The OCWTP has trainers, coaches, and RTC staff ready to help.  Watch for a complete listing of CAPMIS Tool Kit activities on the OCWTP website coming in June, or contact your RTC for more information.