Lessons from a Social Worker

I am a clinical social-worker who wears several different hats. I find these eight tips Managing Caseloads to be universal and easily tailored throughout the profession. Are there tips you would add?



1. Review each case that is inherited and write a summary paragraph.  The summary should include the date the child(ren) were last seen by a social worker, any recommendations given by a professional, any services placed in the home or for a particular household member, the family’s response to service intervention, and any court action or other pertinent information. This will help in developing a strategy for serving the family and serve as a quick review for each case.

2. Staff each case with an immediate supervisor for an outside view and directive measures.  Utilize the supervisor as an agency and policy expert. Follow all suggestions and directives.

3. Ensure that all critical issues are managed by the family.  If the family is not capable of moving to autonomy, utilize in-home services to ensure that they are headed in that direction.

4. Be concise but descriptive in writing about the visit with the family. The person reading your notes should be able to envision what was observed. This will allow the supervisor to give better supervision in that he or she will be able to capture solid information about the family. For example, if a child had a bruise, the shape, color, size, location, and story behind the mark/bruise should be documented.

5. Allow the family to take the lead in creating the goals and steps of their treatment plan.  This creates a solid level of family buy-in. The family is more familiar than any outside party on its functioning and needs. As a social worker, do help in redirecting the goals and steps to remedy the issue that led to child welfare involvement.

6. If needed, refer the family to services that meet their needs.  Cookie cutter services not need apply! Each family needs tailored services for growth and successful autonomy to occur.

7. If there is still access to the prior social worker on the case, conference with that social worker to gain additional insight. There may be information that was not captured fully in the case notes that may be communicated verbally.

8. Always provide the family with a community resource listing.  This information will enable the family to locate resources on their own and equip them to move forward without agency dependency.


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