Caseload Allocation Policy
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter identifies the principle and practice of caseload allocation, underlying the importance for staff of having reasonable caseloads that will enable high quality practice. The chapter also reflects in part that caseload allocation will vary depending on the demands some situations may bring, whilst in others there may be some 'economies of time'. However, every child should have their own 'Plan' with their individual needs recognised.
This chapter was added to the manual in May 2015.
The London Borough of Merton endorses an approach to caseload management that has been outlined and endorsed by the Assistant Director's Group in London. We have incorporated the principles behind this approach into our caseload policy for social work professionals within the borough. Local Authorities have committed to develop effective workload management systems and caseload allocation policies by adhering to the Employer's Standards.
At the heart of a safe and effective Children's Social Care system is adequate numbers of social workers, skilled up to do the job and motivated to do it well. Most LAs are experiencing difficulties recruiting and retaining social workers, and it has been clear for some time that, the overwhelming reason why social workers leave tends to be unmanageable caseloads and lack of management support. The converse is equally true; where social workers have reasonable caseloads and access to high quality, regular supervision, not only do they stay, but the work they do is of higher quality. We have therefore focused on the issues of caseload and management as the cornerstone of a good service.
- First Response - The front door services have developed in a variety of different ways over the last 2 years. Although there is a Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) in many areas it looks very different in different areas. It is an administrative, signposting body in some areas, in others it carries out Assessments and even some interventions. The staffing profile, too, varies enormously with social workers working alongside health visitors, police officers, technical staff, administrators and sundry other professionals. Caseloads in the First Response Team should be 10-12 cases and no more than 26 children.
- Children in Need -Caseloads in Central Social Work Teams and Children with Disabilities Team are expected to be in the range of 18-20 children. The numbers will vary depending on the numbers of families involved - one family of 6 children is likely to generate less work than 6 families of one child. The most intensive pieces of work are likely to be cases going through Care Proceedings. Some LAs have specialist court teams which will necessarily have different caseloads, but within generic Children in Need CIN teams workers would normally have no more than 3 sets of Care Proceedings.
- Children Looked After - Caseloads in 14+ Teams for social workers are expected to be in the range of 12-15 children. Sibling groups in the same placement are likely to generate less work, unsettled children whose frequently disrupt and children placed over 20 miles away are likely to generate more.
- Supervising Social Workers - Caseloads are expected to be in the region of 15-20 fostering households per SSW.
- Adoption/Post Adoption - Caseloads in the Adoption Team incorporates work relating to support for Special Guardianship Orders (SGOs). Caseloads should be 12-15 cases.
- Leaving Care - Work is likely to be more intensive for the 16/17 age group. We consider caseloads of under 18s should be in the region of 13-16 and those of over 18s would be expected to be 20-25.
- Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs) - Regulatory arrangements require IROs to have caseloads of 50 to 70 cases.
- Transforming Families Social Worker - The current 'Troubled Family' approach requires professionals to carry on average 6-7 cases per social work practitioner.
3. Management Span
- Workers - We consider that, for front line managers, one manager should provide supervision for ideally 5 whole time equivalent front line workers and not more than 6. We consider that this is the maximum compatible with effective supervision and a reasonable knowledge of workers' caseloads. The numbers are based on teams with average levels of skills and experience. Teams with higher numbers of ASYE workers for example, will need more management input;
- Cases - It follows from this that a front line manager should have oversight of between 50 - 100 cases depending on the nature of the work undertaken by the team.