University of Wisconsin–Madison

Supervising Safety Training Program

Decisions regarding child safety are, arguably, the most critical decisions made within public human service agencies. State standards articulate parameters for these decisions and definitions that direct work but cannot address the complexity of applying them to the wide range of family situations workers encounter as soon as they leave the office. Depth of conceptual understanding and consistency of application, as well as worker security and confidence in decision making, depend on the supervisor. In recognition of this, the Department of Children and Families and the Wisconsin Child Welfare Professional Development System offer Supervising Safety.

What is Supervising Safety

Supervising Safety is an in-depth training program designed specifically for supervisors. It addresses the unique challenge of staff supervision: how can I guide the worker, who has direct contact with the family and responsibility for information gathering, through the analytic process that results in solid decisions that protect the child, family, worker, supervisor and agency?

For supervisors, participation in Supervising Safety provides an opportunity to focus on safety assessment and planning on a deeper level which results in the ability to address this area of practice with greater expertise and confidence. By the end of training, supervisors have enhanced expertise in applying Wisconsin’s Safety Intervention Model themselves, tools for supervising practice, and a more in-depth understanding of the strengths and needs of agency practice.

For the agency, safety intervention is an area in which agency decision making is frequently subject to scrutiny and second guessing. Participation in Supervising Safety enhances supervisory expertise, provides an in-house consultant on decision making, and demonstrates agency commitment to the state of the art in safety intervention.

  • Scheduling Outline

    The Supervising Safety program consists of three modules:

    • Module 1: Present Danger and Protective Planning
    • Module 2: Assessing Impending Danger
    • Module 3: Safety Planning

    They must be taken in sequence. Each is a prerequisite to the next.

    Each module consists of a combination of full-day seminars and distance learning. Weeks that rely on distance learning require about 4 hours of a supervisor’s time.

    Module One: Present Danger and Protective Planning

    Conceptual Foundation – 2 weeks of distance work
    Week 1 – Seminar One – Welcome Seminar
    Week 2 – Putting Present Danger Concepts to Work – distance work
    Week 3 – Present Danger at Access – distance work
    Week 4 – Present Danger at Initial Contact – distance work
    Week 5 – Supporting a Worker Assessing Present Danger – distance work
    Week 6 – Seminar Two – Present Danger Seminar
    Week 7 – Concepts of Protective Planning – distance work
    Week 8 – Supporting a Worker at Protective Planning – distance work
    Week 9 – Seminar Three – Protective Planning Seminar

    Module Two: Assessing Impending Danger

    Conceptual Foundation – 2 weeks of distance work
    Week 1 – Seminar One – The Process of Assessing Impending Danger
    Week 2 – The Focus for Safety Assessment – distance work
    Week 3 – Threshold Criteria and Impending Danger Threats – distance work
    Week 4 – Safety Assessment of an Agency Case – distance work
    Week 5 – Demonstrating Safety Assessment Skills – distance work
    Week 6 – Seminar Two – Supporting Safety Assessment
    Continued coaching opportunity

  • Enrollment

    Since Supervising Safety utilizes a learning model that relies on small seminars and a high level of individual feedback through phone consultation with a trainer, the availability of training slots is limited. The process for enrollment for Module One is the submission of a Letter of Intent. Completion of such a letter indicates the supervisor is available on the required dates and commits to the level of effort required to complete the session. In addition, agency management recognizes and will address the need to support the supervisor in dedicating the required training time and actively support implementation of agency practice improvements.

    Since Supervising Safety modules must be taken in sequence, all eligible supervisors are individually notified of the availability of subsequent modules directly by WCWPDS.

    Supervising Safety participation is also appropriate for CPS managers and, in smaller agencies, directors.

    Required Supervisor Commitment

    In order to participate in Supervising Safety, the supervisor must be available for all seminars. While all distance work has a due date, we recognize the need to be flexible with schedules to accommodate learner conflicts.

    Agency Management Commitment

    Supervising Safety participation is a significant effort by a supervisor and an asset to the agency. Therefore, agency management is asked to describe how they will support the supervisor (e.g., protected work time, temporary reassignment of some duties) in acquiring uninterrupted time to concentrate on assigned work, as described above, within the Letter of Intent. In addition, participants will complete an Integration Plan describing practice improvements. Implementation of the Integration Plan will benefit from management consideration and support.

    How do I Learn More about upcoming Supervising Safety Offerings?

    In order to learn more about Supervising Safety content, enrollment and availability, please contact Amy Smith at WCWPDS at aesmith9@wisc.edu.

Program Description

The Supervising Safety program consists of three modules:

  • Module 1: Present Danger and Protective Planning
  • Module 2: Assessing Impending Danger
  • Module 3: Safety Planning

Supervising Safety is a blended learning program that utilizes small seminars and distance learning supported by materials downloaded from the Supervising Safety website. Distance work includes:

  • Readings focused on safety concepts and practice
  • Case application of safety decision making
  • Review of workers’ case work
  • Tools for review of agency work
  • Individual feedback and coaching by phone with a trainer

Distance learning weeks require a commitment of 4 hours of the supervisor’s time.

At each step of safety intervention, participants will:

  • Explore the concepts of safety and best practice in safety decision making in greater depth
  • Enhance their own skills in safety decision making and intervention
  • Learn new ways to foster those skills in staff
  • Utilize tools to examine agency practice

Supervising Safety has a demonstrated record of supporting Wisconsin’s supervisors in elevating agency practice. The most frequent feedback from supervisors is: “I am more comfortable and confident in safety decision making”.