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Supervisory role in the successful implementation of Looking After Children


Background and introduction

Ontario Looking After Children (OnLAC) is a framework and approach for planning for children in the care of the Child Welfare System in Ontario, Canada. The OnLAC approach developed out of the Looking After Children Project in the United Kingdom (Ward 1995), and is now being used throughout the Province of Ontario to plan for children. The materials and use of the tool known as the Assessment and Action Record (AAR), has prompted discussion of using the tool and philosophy of OnLAC within supervision. What has been learned through the use of the tool since 1995 is that it is essential that there be consistent and regular discussion about what information has been captured about the child, how planning can be enhanced and how the assessment information can be turned into action.


All child welfare agencies in the Province of Ontario have now implemented OnLAC. There have been many questions as to how the information obtained from the AAR can best be used in supervision. A guide entitled "A Guide for Supervisors: Integrating Tools and Theory in Case Planning" has been developed based on the knowledge and experiences of those supervisors who have used the OnLAC approach and the AAR tool.

Key findings and recommendations

Planning for children and youth can greatly be improved when supervisors and workers are actively discussing the AAR and its implementation during supervision. This reflects Alfred Kadushin's definition that an objective of supervision is to ensure that agencies' children and youth receive the best possible services (Kadushin 1976).

Essential practice components of using the AAR in supervision:

  • The supervisor is not necessarily an OnLAC expert, but he/she is familiar with OnLAC, and the use of the Assessment and Action Record.
  • The supervisor is supportive of this approach, and believes in the guiding principles of OnLAC.
  • The supervisor has some experience and training in completing plans of care and writing meaningful goals and tasks that are observable and measurable.
  • The supervisor has a thorough knowledge of each of his/her worker's cases.
  • The supervisor reviews the AAR with the worker and ensures that the plan of care reflects the information that is captured in it.
  • The supervisor ensures that every child or youth is asked about his/her life goals.
  • The supervisor has a vital role in keeping the OnLAC approach alive in his/her agency.
  • In reviewing the AAR and during supervision, the supervisor ensures that particular attention is given to the identity, culture and religious beliefs of every child or youth.

Key references

Ward, H. (ed) (1995) Looking After Children: Research into Practice: The Second Report to the Department of Health on assessing Outcomes in Child Care. London: HMSO.

Kadushin, A. (1976) Supervision in Social Work. New York: Columbia University Press.

Contact details

Lynn Desjardins, DSW, Supervisor, Child and Youth in Care Services, Children Aid Society of Ottawa, 1602 Telesat Court, Gloucester, Ontario, Canada K1B 1B1

Tel: 1 613 747 7800              Ext: 2397

Email: ldesjardins@casott.on.ca

Sharon Evans, MSW, RSW, Supervisor Staff Training and Development, Family and Children's Service of Waterloo Region, 200 Ardelt Avenue, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada N2C 2L9

Tel: 1 519 576 1329              Ext: 3701

Email: sharon.evans@facswaterloo.org

Doreen Haveman, MSW, RSW, Supervisor, Child and Youth Services, Catholic Children's Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto, 30 Drewry Avenue, Toronto Ontario, M2M 4C4

Tel: 1 416 395 1744           

Email: d.haveman@torontoccas.org.ca

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