CASE MANAGEMENT BEST PRACTICES – HIGHLIGHTING DENVER’S MI CASA
By: NVTI Staff Writer
A Google search of best practices for workforce case management returns12.3 million links. On the first page of the results there is a really “to the point” article that is worth sharing.
The organization behind the article is Mi Casa, a Denver, CO-based organization that started in 1976 as a women-focused non-profit and has grown into a significant organization in the Workforce arena. In her article, (http://www.micasaresourcecenter.org/best-practices-in-workforce-development-case-management/), Stephanie Noll (M.S.W.), addresses four aspects of case management and then provides recommendations for each one. The four aspects and related recommendations (recommendations are direct quotes from the article) are:
1. Service: Serve others and address their social problems. Best practice tips:
- Conduct comprehensive intake interviews with all participants. Gather information about their background and any challenges they currently face.
- Write an Individualized Service Strategy (ISS) for each participant. Identify action steps that will be taken to resolve the barriers.
- Meet weekly with each participant to monitor progress toward the ISS.
- Develop relationships with other service providers to create a network of high-quality resources and referrals.
2. Importance of Human Relationships: Relationships are primary agents of change. Best practice tips:
- Meet weekly with participants to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to them. Offering regularly scheduled case management meetings not only allows for follow-up on the ISS but also shows participants that they matter to you.
- Maintain additional regular contact with all participants, even if for a brief check-in. Drop by the classroom for daily announcements or quick check-ins with participants.
- Include relationship and communication skill-building activities in the workforce development curriculum. This provides participants with the opportunity to get to know each other and develop a community of support among themselves.
3. Dignity and Worth of the Person: Treat each person with respect and honor differences and diversity. Best practice tips:
- Involve participants in the development of the ISS. Case management is most effective when it is a collaborative process between participant and case manager.
- Give participants time to tell their own story. Everyone has a story to tell and they have the right to tell that story in their own way. Sometimes the most powerful aspect of case management is offering people a chance to feel heard. Listening nonjudgmentally to someone’s story can be the best way to show someone respect and honor their dignity.
4. Social Justice: Pursue social change on issues of poverty, unemployment, discrimination, and other forms of social injustice. Best practice tips:
- Recognize any differences in identity and life experience that may exist between the case manager and participants. Be sensitive to differences in levels of power and privilege and how they might impact case management.
- Provide space for participants to discuss their experiences of discrimination. Offer empathy for the challenges that participants have faced. Acknowledge the resilience, determination, and strength they have shown in overcoming challenges throughout their lives.
- Speak up about social injustice. Advocate for services, procedures, and laws that are fair and create more equitable access to opportunity for all people. Attend community events to stay informed about greater social justice efforts. Inform participants of opportunities to get involved as well.
As you read over these ideas, they are not much different from what you learned in NVTI courses. So, this may be a refresher for some of you and certainly it’s a validation of the material you learned at the Institute.
Many of these ideas have applicability beyond case management – they are good practices for leaders. Taking an approach to leadership of serving others (called Servant Leadership), building and maintaining good relationships with your staff, respecting your team members (including their differences), and speaking out when values are not honored are actions that good leaders (and team mates) take.
To close on a high note, Noll reports that at the end of the Mi Casa program, participants feel they have received more than expected. What a great ending!