What’s your agenda? Reflective supervision in community-based child welfare services in Aotearoa

Matt Rankine

A new article by Matt Rankine reports on findings of a qualitative research project exploring supervision in non- statutory child welfare agencies in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Matt notes that the contracting environment  of community-based child welfare services (CCW) in the  managerialist climate of  Aotearoa New Zealand  necessitates constantly renegotiated contractual partnerships, service targeting and measured outcomes.

Reflective supervision is essential to counter the perceived negative impacts of managerialism on CCW work. Within this environment, there is a struggle to ensure supervision provides reflective spaces for social workers to develop in their work with service users despite the demands of meeting organisational imperatives.

Matt’s  article reports on a qualitative study which critically analyses the espoused theory and theories-in-use (Argyris & Schön, 1974)  about reflective supervision held by social workers practising in the demanding environment of community child welfare agencies.

This article shares some findings from  the first phase of the research, analsysed from data from nine key informant interviews with social workers  who had both considerable experience in CCW and academic experience. Nine key informants with considerable expertise were interviewed and the findings highlighted that community based child welfare social workers are influenced by maintaining self-awareness and professional relationships alongside their organisational and professional obligations. To maintain professional practice, social workers require reflective supervision to engage in critical self-reflection, promote resiliency and critically consider the wider cultural and environmental factors impacting on practice. Findings indicate that social workers working in CCW settings are influenced by numerous organisational and professional obligations within a changing and risk-averse managerial environment.

Reflective supervision helps workers to engage in self-reflection, consider wider sociocultural factors and to critically develop social-justice-informed practice with service users.

Read the full article here:

Rankine, M., Beddoe, L., O’Brien, M., & Fouché, C. (2017). What’s your agenda? Reflective supervision in community-based child welfare services. European Journal of Social Work, 1-13. doi:10.1080/13691457.2017.1326376


Argyris, C., & Schön, D. (1974). Theory in practice: Increasing professional effectiveness. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.


About socialworknz

I'm a social work researcher in Aotearoa New Zealand
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