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Message ID: 9133
Date: 2012-03-11

Author:Francis Drake

Subject:RE: CPS Investigator Caseloads

The general investigation numbers given below of 20ish-30ish referrals a month for a worker who just does investigations squares with my experience (CA, mid 80's). You usually can do more than one investigation a day, and sometimes you can do three or (very rarely) four. Of course, I didn't have to deal with computer input screens, which I understand can slow you down in some states. Tracking the number of investigations an individual worker gets may be problematic - quite often I got a case and couldn't find the person and the case would "roll over" to another worker on the next shift - 2 or more investigations but only one case. You may also spawn a new case when you are on a case if multiple families are involved (uncommon, but it happens). Statistics are also going to be diluted by other factors - sometimes you have more staff available than cases (so people sit around or do something else), some staff work shifts where cases are less frequent, and some cases are handled by staff on beepers at home (common for late night/early morning). In that last situation the case is not handled during any worker's official 40 hour week. -Brett Drake Washington University ________________________________________ From: bounce-42216065-10777274@list.cornell.edu [bounce-42216065-10777274@list.cornell.edu] on behalf of Melanie Sage [melaniesage@gmail.com] Sent: Saturday, March 10, 2012 1:13 PM To: Child Maltreatment Researchers Subject: Re: CPS Investigator Caseloads Yes, I would start by questioning the data. Is there a mode reported? As a social worker in North Carolina, our office investigators handled about 15-25 referrals a month (2001). When I worked in California child welfare I handled 25-40 referrals a month (and typically had to work 10-15 hours overtime to manage.) (2002-03). In Oregon, it was about 20-25. (2005-06). In North Dakota here where my husband is currently an investigation worker, he gets an average 16 a month. This is the most manageable caseload size in our personal experience. (In this state they allow cases to be closed mid-assessment if a decision can be made, and I don't know whether this counts as a completed assessment or not.) You assumed a 40 hour work week, which is also inaccurate. I would guess about an average 10 hours a week is spent on meetings (unit, all-office, community outreach, special trainings, MDT's for the cases of peers.) According to American Humane, their studies suggest 30-40% of worker time is spent on non-case activities, which calculates to 12-16 hours a week. (http://www.americanhumane.org/children/stop-child-abuse/advocacy/caseworker_workload_paper.pdf) The same report indicates only about 25% of worker time is in direct communication with people involved in the case. In CA, I regularly had to sit in court (on cases not mine, waiting for my case to be called) for 4 hours once a week. Depending on the state, I sometimes spent 10 hours a week driving to homes in sum, which really can't be counted as "time working on a case." Since 20% of our country is rural, perhaps there are some areas where the caseloads are smaller (and the drives longer). I looked up the report and information is grouped by state here: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/pubs/cm10/cm10.pdf#page=17 I guess it would be even more helpful to see numbers by county. If we use some of these numbers from American Humane (see Figure 2) report, here's what a monthly 40 hour workload might look like this (feel free to double-check me, it's a lazy Saturday afternoon and I try not to calculate anything on Saturdays) caseload size: 15 cases (low average, based on my personal experience) contact with families and children: 10 hours documentation and waiting/appearing/preparing for court: 17 hours travel: 5 hours communication on case not with family: 8 hours time in direct contact with families: 10 hours, 15 cases = about 40 minutes per family If we assume the much lower caseload size reported by Children's Bureau, the average investigative worker conducts 6 cases a month. (I've never heard of this happening anywhere.) This would allow for almost 2 hours of direct contact per family. Melanie Sage, LICSW, PhD University of North Dakota Dept of Social Work On Fri, Mar 9, 2012 at 5:15 PM, Edward Opton wrote: > The Children’s Bureau report “Child Maltreatment 2010” includes interesting > data on CPS investigator caseloads. According to the report: > > > > “Using data from 41 States, in FFY 2010, investigation workers conducted an > average of 66.7 responses a year . . . .” (P. 9.) > > > > If one assumes a work-year of 49 work weeks at 40 hours per week, a caseload > of 66.7 cases per year would allow an average of 29.4 hours per case. Is > that consonant with the many, many complaints that investigative caseworkers > are crushed beneath inhuman, impossible workloads? > > > > To an outsider, it might seem that 29+ hours would be enough for an average > case—some cases would require more time, some less. But is an average of > 29+ hours not enough for the average case? If not, why not? Or is there > reason to question the accuracy of the 66.7 case per year statistic? > > > > A related question: what is a “caseload?” Some caseworker supervisors don’t > seem to know whether “caseload” means: > > > > (a) the number of cases a caseworker has “open” at a particular point in > time, such as the last day of a month; > > (b) the number of cases a caseworker has “open” on at least one day during a > period of time, such as a month, i.e., the number of “old” cases still open > at the beginning of a month plus the number of new cases assigned during > that month; > > (c) the number of new cases a caseworker is assigned during a period of > time, such as a month; > > (d) some other definition. > > > > Is there a standard definition of the term? > > > > Edward Opton, Ph.D. > > National Center for Youth Law > > 405 14th St. > > Oakland, CA 94612 > > Eopton[at]youthlaw.org

The general investigation numbers given below of 20ish-30ish referrals a month for a worker who just does investigations squares with my experience (CA, mid 80's). You usually can do more than one investigation a day, and sometimes you can do three or (very rarely) four. Of course, I didn't have to deal with computer input screens, which I understand can slow you down in some states. Tracking the number of investigations an individual worker gets may be problematic - quite often I got a case and couldn't find the person and the case would "roll over" to another worker on the next shift - 2 or more investigations but only one case. You may also spawn a new case when you are on a case if multiple families are involved (uncommon, but it happens). Statistics are also going to be diluted by other factors - sometimes you have more staff available than cases (so people sit around or do something else), some staff work shifts where cases are less frequent, and some cases are handled by staff on beepers at home (common for late night/early morning). In that last situation the case is not handled during any worker's official 40 hour week. -Brett Drake Washington University ________________________________________ From: bounce-42216065-10777274list.cornell.edu [bounce-42216065-10777274list.cornell.edu] on behalf of Melanie Sage [melaniesagegmail.com] Sent: Saturday, March 10, 2012 1:13 PM To: Child Maltreatment Researchers Subject: Re: CPS Investigator Caseloads Yes, I would start by questioning the data. Is there a mode reported? As a social worker in North Carolina, our office investigators handled about 15-25 referrals a month (2001). When I worked in California child welfare I handled 25-40 referrals a month (and typically had to work 10-15 hours overtime to manage.) (2002-03). In Oregon, it was about 20-25. (2005-06). In North Dakota here where my husband is currently an investigation worker, he gets an average 16 a month. This is the most manageable caseload size in our personal experience. (In this state they allow cases to be closed mid-assessment if a decision can be made, and I don't know whether this counts as a completed assessment or not.) You assumed a 40 hour work week, which is also inaccurate. I would guess about an average 10 hours a week is spent on meetings (unit, all-office, community outreach, special trainings, MDT's for the cases of peers.) According to American Humane, their studies suggest 30-40% of worker time is spent on non-case activities, which calculates to 12-16 hours a week. (http://www.americanhumane.org/children/stop-child-abuse/advocacy/caseworker_workload_paper.pdf) The same report indicates only about 25% of worker time is in direct communication with people involved in the case. In CA, I regularly had to sit in court (on cases not mine, waiting for my case to be called) for 4 hours once a week. Depending on the state, I sometimes spent 10 hours a week driving to homes in sum, which really can't be counted as "time working on a case." Since 20% of our country is rural, perhaps there are some areas where the caseloads are smaller (and the drives longer). I looked up the report and information is grouped by state here: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/pubs/cm10/cm10.pdf#page=17 I guess it would be even more helpful to see numbers by county. If we use some of these numbers from American Humane (see Figure 2) report, here's what a monthly 40 hour workload might look like this (feel free to double-check me, it's a lazy Saturday afternoon and I try not to calculate anything on Saturdays) caseload size: 15 cases (low average, based on my personal experience) contact with families and children: 10 hours documentation and waiting/appearing/preparing for court: 17 hours travel: 5 hours communication on case not with family: 8 hours time in direct contact with families: 10 hours, 15 cases = about 40 minutes per family If we assume the much lower caseload size reported by Children's Bureau, the average investigative worker conducts 6 cases a month. (I've never heard of this happening anywhere.) This would allow for almost 2 hours of direct contact per family. Melanie Sage, LICSW, PhD University of North Dakota Dept of Social Work On Fri, Mar 9, 2012 at 5:15 PM, Edward Opton wrote: > The Children’s Bureau report “Child Maltreatment 2010” includes interesting > data on CPS investigator caseloads. According to the report: > > > > “Using data from 41 States, in FFY 2010, investigation workers conducted an > average of 66.7 responses a year . . . .” (P. 9.) > > > > If one assumes a work-year of 49 work weeks at 40 hours per week, a caseload > of 66.7 cases per year would allow an average of 29.4 hours per case. Is > that consonant with the many, many complaints that investigative caseworkers > are crushed beneath inhuman, impossible workloads? > > > > To an outsider, it might seem that 29+ hours would be enough for an average > case—some cases would require more time, some less. But is an average of > 29+ hours not enough for the average case? If not, why not? Or is there > reason to question the accuracy of the 66.7 case per year statistic? > > > > A related question: what is a “caseload?” Some caseworker supervisors don’t > seem to know whether “caseload” means: > > > > (a) the number of cases a caseworker has “open” at a particular point in > time, such as the last day of a month; > > (b) the number of cases a caseworker has “open” on at least one day during a > period of time, such as a month, i.e., the number of “old” cases still open > at the beginning of a month plus the number of new cases assigned during > that month; > > (c) the number of new cases a caseworker is assigned during a period of > time, such as a month; > > (d) some other definition. > > > > Is there a standard definition of the term? > > > > Edward Opton, Ph.D. > > National Center for Youth Law > > 405 14th St. > > Oakland, CA 94612 > > Eopton[at]youthlaw.org