So recently on a lecture hosted by SDSU, they brought up issues with child welfare practices and one being with case plans that do not help parents. Too often the case plans are blank templates in which the case worker imputes generic services for all parents.
They stressed the importance of the case plan in the family reunification services and how it should really strive to reflect the deficiencies and changes that the parents need to make.. The case plan as they called it is a "living document". They mean living as in that it follows the parents throughout the lifetime of the case and should be constantly changing to reflect progress in the case.
Too often the case plan is a static document that has little variance. It usually is drafted around the jurisdiction disposition period and does not change throughout the life of the case. I understand that case workers are busy and do not have the time to check in as much as they should or edit and file a revised case plan to reflect any progress or lack thereof. However, the case plan should be edited to add in progress or milestones that the parents have reached. By doing such the parents will have the motivation that they are doing the right things to get their children back.
The dependency system is infamous for being overloaded with cases and without relatively frequent check in with the parents they may become discouraged and give up or slow down on their progress. Those who fight such changes argue that this would cause even more delays and make it much harder for case workers to close out cases on time. I am not sure as I do not actively work with CWS but it seems that in the long term it would reduce the number of cases and case worker would be able to close out cases faster.
I know that the child welfare services/ case management system (CWS/CMS) is known for slowing down everything as it is a lot of point click point click click as case workers are trying to fill in fields and insert commentary. Even though the paperwork is mandatory and a dominate part of the job, it is very important that the case worker does not forget to meet with the parents and check in. It can be as simple as a phone call or short meeting where they ask "How are things going? What services have you completed this month? What do you need help with? How is minor?" These questions are very simple to ask...finding the time to ask such is far far harder. However, asking these may reveal some important information or unmet parental needs.
On a final note, the presenters commented on not all aspects of the case plan being service oriented. Take for example if a parent learns visually or has more hands on needs, the case worker should take note of that and see if they can make accommodations. Not all parents benefit from a lecture style parenting class and may struggle with parenting even after completing their requirement. They propose that they learn from books or videos and then check in with the case monthly about what they learned and how they implement it with their children. If this works, the case worker should petition to have that as an alternative to traditional parenting classes. Again this may seem like it would cause delays, but let me remind you that there is a difference between compliance and actually learning from the services. There is no point in having the services if it does not benefit the parent. By taking a few extra minutes to ensure that the parent actually learns and benefits from their case plan requirements, recidivism may reduced thus decreasing the case loads for case workers in the long term.
Juvenile Dependency and