Caseload and Workload Management
Series: Issue Briefs|
Child Welfare Information Gateway. |
|Year Published: 2010|
Catalysts and Motivating Factors
Some States set out specifically to reduce caseloads and workloads; others have reforms imposed on them; and still others arrive at caseload and workload reduction as an unintended effect of other initiatives. The impetus for caseload and workload reduction efforts typically emerges from one or more of the following catalysts:
- CFSRs. After the first round of CFSRs, about half the States' Program Improvement Plans (PIPs) noted the need for improvements in workloads or caseloads (Children's Defense Fund and Children's Rights, 2006). States continue to address workloads/caseloads and related issues (e.g., recruitment, retention, training, supervision, and systems reform) in the second round PIPs as a means to improve CFSR outcomes and to achieve compliance with Federal standards.
- Legislation. Several State legislatures have mandated State and local jurisdictions to assess workload issues, meet identified standards, implement specific strategies such as hiring additional staff, and report on progress. For examples of existing legislation, see Delaware, Florida, Indiana, and Texas.
- Litigation and consent decrees. Class-action litigation across the country—frequently resulting from high-profile fatalities—has brought attention to child welfare system reform and generated workforce improvements (Farber & Munson, 2007). Provisions in settlement agreements and consent decrees often require jurisdictions (for example, Baltimore, MD; District of Columbia; Illinois; and Milwaukee, WI) to meet specific caseload standards.
- Staffing needs. In a nationwide survey, State administrators identified reducing caseloads, workloads, and supervisory ratios as the most important action for child welfare agencies to take to retain qualified frontline staff (APHSA, 2005).
- Standards and accreditation. When developing caseload management strategies, some States and localities take into consideration the caseload standards and guidance recommended by the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA); others strive to meet the Council on Accreditation (COA) standards in order to achieve accreditation. States have had varying success in achieving and maintaining these standards.
- Systems reform. Currently, some States are engaged in developing new practice models and implementing systemwide reform efforts, such as differential response, family engagement, and system of care initiatives. While caseload/workload reduction may not be a stated goal of these reform efforts, it sometimes is a necessary component or a resultant outcome.
- Union negotiations. Unions representing child welfare workers have played an important role in negotiating improved caseload ratios.
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