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Advocacy 2014

Enhance child welfare case management efficiency

In her own words ... a case manager shares her passion for helping others - even amidst daily challenges. Listen now.


childCase managers - who enter the field of child welfare to engage children and families - are much more effective when they're able to regularly interact with the children and families in their care. Increased effectiveness = better outcomes for kids.

But administrative burdens prevent significant interaction and face time - 43 percent of a case manager's time is spent on administrative tasks.

  • A case manager works an average of 52 hours/week.
    • 22 hours - nearly three full days - are spent in front of a computer.
    • Only 25 percent of time is spent face to face with clients.

What's more: Florida's Department of Children and Families has launched an overhaul of child welfare practice as it prepares to launch the Florida Safety Decision-Making Model, which will dramatically change practices at the abuse hotline, in protective investigations and in ongoing services. It will require case managers to spend more face-to-face time with clients ... but the system isn't resourced to allow case managers to spend additional time with children and families, and this could prevent successful implementation of the new practice model.

Our stance

Children's Home Society of Florida supports public policy that:

  • Requests legislative appropriation to increase the number of child welfare case manafers throughout the state
    • Helps caseload management
    • Allows case managers to increase face-to-face time with children and families
    • Goal for quality practice in child welfare: 12 children per case manager
  • Reduces the administrative burden on case managers. Limit the amount of data collected to federally mandated data and key legislative outcomes for child welfare
    • Increases the ratio of time case managers spend face to face with clients
    • Positively impacts job satisfaction and retention
      • Directly correlates with improved outcomes for children and families
      • Directly correlates with children's stability and permanent living situations
  • Requests the legislature establish a Paperwork Reduction and Outcome Improvement Task Force
    • Recommend to the legislature best practices and/or initiatives that will improve outcomes for kids in the child welfare system
    • Focus on accountability and outcomes driven by successful practice rather than unnecessary paperwork
  • Requires the Department of Children and Families to conduct a fiscal impact analysis when adding data requirements for case managers to track in FSFN
  • Requires the Department of Children and Families to provide accessibility to raw data in FSFN for all providers and community-based-care lead agencies
    • Drive improvement within Florida's child welfare system
      • Identify gaps in service, areas of concern and best practices for replication
    • Allow child- and family-serving organizations to manage internal reporting and processes necessary to monitor performance
  • Ensures resources (tools, positions, career opportunities, salary) allocated to child protective investigators and case management are balanced to ensure greater stability in the system
  • Promotes the sharing of information across state agencies, including the Agency for Health Care Administration, the Department of Education, the Department of Juvenile Justice, and the Department of Children and Families (and allows providers access through FSFN) so case managers do not have to track down hard copies of documents

Why it's important

  • Overwhelming administrative burdens detract from face time with clients.
    • Increases turnover in case management.
    • Turnover negatively affects client stability by decreasing the chances of children finding permanent homes through reunification with their families or through adoption.
    • According to studies:
      • Children with one case manager have stability through reunification with their families or through adoption in 74.5 percent of cases.
      • Among children with two case managers, only 17.5 percent find stability through reunification with their families or through adoption.
      • Among children with more than six case managers, as few as .1 percent find stability through reunification with their families or through adoption.
  • High caseloads:
    • Negatively affect retention.
    • Contribute to re-entry of children in the child welfare system.
    • Result in children and families receiving fewer services, leading to poor outcomes: failed reunifications, longer stays in care, multiple placements, lower chances of stability.

The situation

  • Case manager turnover rates: 40 percent.
  • Average tenure: 18 months.
    • 18 months is also the time experts believe is required for case managers to become proficient at the 100+ tasks required by state and federal law.
  • Currently, about 1/5 of case managers' time is spent each week interacting face to face with clients.
  • Experts believe 1/3 of case managers' time must be spent each week interacting face to face with clients to improve outcomes for children.
    • This adds 16.5 hours to a 50-hour workweek.
    • With 2,270 case managers in Florida, this adds a total of 14,758 working hours.
    • These additional hours require an additional 295 positions that will work a 50-hour workweek.
      • 205 case managers
      • 90 family support workers

Goal: improve outcomes for children.

-Impact of Caseworker Turnover on Children and Youth; Child Welfare Training Institute, University of Southern Maine, Muskie School of Public Service.
-Florida Coalition for Children Case Management Study
-Unsolved Challenge of System Reform: The Condition of the Frontline Human Services Workforce; The Annie E. Casey Foundation Report; 2003. 
-Workforce in Crisis in Child Welfare: An Issue Brief; Child Welfare League of America Press; 2003.
-Combating the Workforce Crisis in Child Protective Services; American Humane Association; 2002.
-Retention of Child Welfare Staff: What We Can Learn from Committed Survivors; Westbrook, Ellis, & Ellett; Journal of Administration in Social Work; 2006.
-Finding and Keeping Good Staff: A Never Ending Challenge; Child Protection Report; Business Publishers; 2002.
-Components of an Effective Child Welfare Workforce to Improve Outcomes for Children and Families: What Does the Research Tell Us?; Children’s Defense Fund; 2006. 
-The Performance and Retention of Child Welfare Workers In Florida Across Educational Backgrounds; Robin Perry, PhD.; 44th Annual Workshop of the National Association for  Child Welfare Research and Statistics; 2004. 
-Beyond Caseload: What Workload Studies Can Tell Us About Enduring Issues in the Workplace; Gregory Tooman & John Fluke; Protecting  Children, Vol. 17/#3, 2002.

Copyright 2015 Children’s Home Society of Florida, All Rights Reserved.