Methods: In this presentation, two programs which respond to the need for increased training on advanced social work supervision will be discussed. First, the Supervisory Leaders in Aging (SLA) program of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) was designed to improve gerontological services by strengthening supervision of the social service workforce. Second, Social Work Practice Fellows (SWPF), launched in 2018, is a professional development program for MSW supervisors from a wide range of community-based organizations serving clients across the life course. SWPF is delivered by the continuing education departments of schools of social work and its workshops are led by expert practitioners and faculty scholars. A current pilot study supports implementation of SWPF in four areas of the northeastern U.S. The SWPF educational model calls for face-to-face interactive learning utilizing group activities, discussions of cases and supervision experiences, and extensive educational materials. Small cohorts of MSW supervisors convene every other week for six full-day workshops. SWPF also facilitates peer support for supervisors who are known to experience professional isolation. Graduates join a growing professional network for mutual support.
Findings: The SLA program was adopted between 2015 and 2017 in four regions where NASW trained 134 MSW supervisors who support 1,200 social service staff, potentially enhancing the well-being of 264,000 clients annually. Quality improvement evaluations suggested feasibility of program adoption and acceptability. Participants rated each of 10 workshops and 97% agreed that instructors were effective, that knowledge was expanded, and that content was relevant, appropriate, and likely to be used. For the pilot study of the SWPF program, delivered through four partner schools and reaching 80 trainees, evaluation data demonstrate successful implementation and positive learning outcomes. An inventory of supervisory best-practices which corresponds with the curriculum allows for the comparison of pre- and post-training scores to demonstrate the extent of participants’ increased frequency of and confidence in the use of best-practices. Data collection concluded in April, 2019 and preliminary analyses reveal significant gains among participants across workshops and locations.
Conclusion and Implications: The SLA and SWPF programs have the potential to tap the educational capacity and local practice networks of hundreds of social work programs across the country. Together, these programs bring much needed leadership development to social work supervisors who can increase the capacity of their supervisees to provide excellence in care.