Understanding Case Management

Child-centered case management refers to the individualized support provided by professional social workers or trained paraprofessionals who work closely with the children and families during each step of the transition process. This not only provides children and families with a source of consistent and ongoing support, but also provides for the regular documentation of any assessments, records, and other information needed to make sound placement decisions and develop (as well as monitor and update) care plans based on the actual strengths, circumstances, and needs of individual children and families.

The stages of case management prior to, during, and after transition to family include:

  • Assessing each child’s development, history, strengths and needs;
  • Tracing his or her birth family to determine if reunification is possible and appropriate;
  • When reunification is not possible, identifying and assessing alternative family care options;
  • Gathering documentation (records, assessments) and providing input into a placement decision;
  • Identifying what services are needed by the child and family, and providing the necessary referrals and follow-up;
  • With the input of child and family, developing an individualized care plan that builds on their respective strengths to meet their needs;
  • Preparing the child and family for transition; and
  • Once the child has been placed in a family, monitoring child and family adjustment and wellbeing, and identifying additional support or initiating intervention when needed.

These care plans may be more highly specialized for children who have disabilities, who are coming out of situations in which they are particularly vulnerable, or who are living in fragile or emergency contexts.

Inter-Agency Guidelines for Case Management & Child Protection Provides step-by-step guidance on how to do case management. Outlines key definitions, principles and practices, contexts for use of case management, and steps in the process. (Global Child Protection Working Group)

Family Case Management: A Handbook for Family Case Managers Details FHI 360’s case management approach within health and community development, including roles and responsibilities of family case managers in care of health, nutrition, food security, and education; conducting home visits; processes of community mobilization; steps for prioritization and referral; and Q&A. Provides household assessment forms. (FHI 360/India)

Steps and Principles of Case Management Tool Outlines core steps and principles in the case management process. (Faith to Action Initiative)

The Way We Care: A Guide for Managers of Programs Serving Vulnerable Children and Youth Provides a “self-teach” manual designed to help new and recently promoted managers of programs serving vulnerable children and youth. Promotes child-focused and family-centered approaches. (FHI 360)

Making Social Work Work: Improving Social Work for Vulnerable Families and Children Without Parental Care Around the World Calls for families and children in developing countries to be supported in ways that are appropriate to the conditions, culture, and resources available. (Family for Every Child)

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