The Role of the Supervising Social Worker

The Role of the Supervising Social Worker

Alison Davis


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Supervising social workers have an essential role to play in foster care and are a key link between the fostering service and foster carers. However, the importance of this role to successful foster care is often overlooked. The supervising social worker must provide support and advice to foster carers, while fulfilling their role as supervisor, ensuring that the fostered child feels secure and is thriving, and verifying that the carer meets the fostering service’s requirements. The role also involves many challenges; workers must, for example, build close professional relationships while maintaining appropriate boundaries, manage allegations against carers, work with carers who may present challenges, and deal with their own feelings in emotional situations. It is essential for anyone taking on this role, or managing supervising social workers, to understand these varied demands, and the need to be a supporter, teacher, inspector, assessor, coach, mediator, networker, colleague, and counsellor.

This comprehensive, considered and highly practical guide is a vital learning tool and companion for all supervising social workers.

Who is this book for?

This comprehensive, considered and highly practical guide is a vital learning tool and companion for all those starting out in the role of supervising social worker, or needing to keep their skills and knowledge up to date as the role evolves with changes in practice.

What you will find in this book

This authoritative guide provides a solid, practical grounding in what the role of the supervising social worker entails, and how to successfully meet its demands. It covers:

  • The scope of the role and its responsibilities
  • Relevant legislation and research
  • The demands on the supervising social worker during the foster carer’s journey from assessment through induction, personal development and training
  • Establishing fulfilling working relationships with fostering families
  • Providing appropriate support and supervision to foster carers, and the importance of cultural competency
  • Undertaking foster carer reviews
  • Managing allegations and complaints against carers

The guide is informed and illustrated throughout by case studies from experienced supervising social workers, who provide important insights by discussing their experiences of the role and how they have handled various challenges.


Alison Davis:
Alison Davis qualified as a social worker in 1986 and spent 27 years in a variety of social work roles for local authorities, ranging from generic social worker to Child Protection and Permanency Planning Chair. She has an MA in Management and has held senior management positions in childcare, children with disability teams, and fostering and adoption. During her career, she has sat on and chaired both fostering and adoption panels and been an agency decision-maker. She currently works as an independent social worker, chairing two local authority foster panels, chairing disruption meetings and child appreciation days, and undertaking assessments and investigations, and is an associate trainer for CoramBAAF. She also mentors university students who are considering a career in social work.