Casework practice1 is the means of helping children and families improve functioning by changing internal attitudes and feelings, behaviors, and external circumstances. It relies on a strong relationship between the child welfare professionals and families, and includes assessing strengths and needs and developing case plans. Children and families are often referred to community services or providers to assist them in achieving the goals outlined in their case plans or for the assessment and diagnosis of mental health, substance use, or other issues. Appropriate referrals to services that support and strengthen families can help to limit involvement with child welfare and promote successful outcomes.
This section includes resources and information to aid caseworkers with screening children, youth, and families for co-occurring issues and trauma; help staff engage families with cultural humility and competence; grow their understanding of the appropriate use and oversight of psychotropic medications for children and youth in foster care; and build networks of support that will strengthen families, keep children safe, and increase family well-being and wellness.
The Behavioral Health and Wellness section has replaced both the Mental Health and the Substance Abuse sections on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website. Please update your bookmarks.
- Working with families: Mental health
- Preventing substance use
- Working with families: Substance use
- Working with diverse populations: Behavioral health
- Behavioral health and co-occurring topics
- Understanding psychotropic medications
Solution Based Casework
Provides information regarding a framework for casework practice that focuses on achieving collaborative and evidence-based outcomes with families by reducing safety risks. This child welfare practice model promotes effective partnerships between caseworkers and families.
Guidelines to Applying a Trauma Lens to a Child Welfare Practice Model (PDF - 535 KB)
Chadwick Trauma-Informed Systems Project (2013)
Designed as a tool for child welfare agencies to assist them in making their child welfare casework practice model more trauma-informed. These guidelines provide examples of policies and practices that can be implemented by child welfare administrators, as well as community examples.
1Casework: Method of social work intervention that helps an individual or family improve functioning by changing internal attitudes and feelings, behaviors, and external circumstances directly affecting the individual or family. This contrasts with community organization and other methods of social work intervention that focus on changing institutions or society. Casework relies on a relationship between the worker and client as the primary tool for affecting change.