What Does a Social Services Case Manager Do?

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A social services case manager visits a potential client at their home.

 

Social services case managers can make a positive difference in the lives of their clients. Acting as a central point of contact, social services case managers coordinate multiple services for vulnerable individuals who face challenges related to issues such as violence, disability, homelessness, aging, substance abuse and immigration.

Through the creation and implementation of service plans, social services case managers advocate for their clients and connect them with a wide range of service providers; they also are responsible for regularly monitoring their clients to help ensure they benefit from the services they receive.

Earning an online bachelor’s in psychology can be an entry point for a rewarding career as a social services case manager.

What a Social Services Case Manager Does

A social services case manager’s primary responsibility is to arrange for and coordinate the services a client needs. According to the Global Social Services Workforce Alliance, in conducting their work, case managers should adhere to certain guiding principles, such as:

  • Working toward the goal of improving a client’s resilience and quality of life
  • Respecting and promoting a client’s strengths
  • Respecting diversity, culture and tradition
  • Maintaining confidentiality

To carry out their responsibilities, social services case managers coordinate with an array of other individuals, such as law enforcement personnel, teachers, medical professionals, religious leaders and members of a client’s family or household.

Clients and Work Settings

Social services case managers work with many different types of clients in multiple settings. For example, their clients can include:

  • Children who have been abused or neglected
  • Victims of domestic violence
  • Individuals with disabilities
  • Individuals experiencing homelessness
  • Individuals with aging-related needs
  • Individuals with alcohol and substance abuse issues
  • Immigrants and refugees

Social services case managers can work for both public and private organizations, such as:

  • Child protective services agencies
  • Adult protective services agencies
  • Charitable organizations
  • Hospitals
  • Drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers
  • Rape crisis centers

Social Services Case Manager Responsibilities

The typical steps in the overall case management process help to illustrate a social services case manager’s responsibilities.

  • During the intake process, the social services case manager performs duties such as meeting with the potential client and gathering background information. Potential clients can be identified in several ways, such as through referrals from a teacher or a community outreach agency or through a direct request from a potential client.
  • Screening and assessment. Social services case managers conduct a screening and assessment to determine whether the potential client is eligible for services and which services they need. In some cases, screening may include a rapid assessment to determine whether there is an immediate need to secure the potential client’s safety.
  • Creating a service plan. If a client is eligible for services, the social services case manager develops a service plan that contains information such as client goals, specific services the client will receive to achieve those goals and where the client will obtain services. Depending on the type of client, the creation of the service plan also may involve obtaining the client’s agreement with the plan.
  • Service plan monitoring and evaluation. While the service plan is underway, the social services case manager monitors and evaluates the plan’s implementation by performing duties such as communicating with service providers, discussing progress with the client and identifying any additional services the client may need. This step also involves continuing to assess the client’s needs and modifying the service plan based on that assessment.
  • Case closure. The social services case manager may decide to close a case after confirming that the client has met the goals in the service plan. At this point, the social services case manager also may determine that the goals are no longer relevant or that new goals are required. Cases can be closed for other reasons, such as when clients no longer wish to receive services.

Qualifications Required to Work as a Social Services Case Manager

The requirements to work as a social services case manager depend on the specific position and setting in which an individual works. Some social services case manager positions require an associate degree combined with two years of relevant experience. Others require a bachelor’s degree in a field such as psychology, social work, criminal justice or sociology. Some social services case managers also have master’s degrees in those fields.

Depending on the specific position, organizations may prefer or require social services case managers to have experience working with families and children, individuals with a history of mental illness, homeless individuals or individuals with chemical dependency. Experience in areas such as behavioral health, community health or gerontology also may be preferred or required for certain social services case manager positions.

Social services case managers work with a variety of people in many settings, so having certain skills can help them succeed. For example, good communication and interpersonal skills are critical in working with clients and service providers. The ability to multitask, practice good time management and remain organized also is important in working with multiple clients and service providers.

Social Services Case Manager Salaries

According to PayScale, the median annual salary for social services case managers is around $39,200, as of January 2021. Entry-level social services case managers earn an average of $35,818, while those with 20 or more years of experience earn an average of $46,013.

Pave the Way to a Career in Social Services Case Management

Social services case management can be a gratifying career that enables individuals to help some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Rider University’s online Bachelor of Arts in Psychology program offers a foundation of knowledge to embark on the path to working as a social services case manager. Begin your journey to a rewarding career today.

Recommended Readings

Careers in Psychology with a Bachelor’s Degree

How to Become a Victim Advocate and Provide Empowerment for Victims of Crime

Psychology vs. Social Work

Sources:

Better Care Network, Glossary of Key Terms

Case Management Society of America, What Kind of Training, Certification, or License Does a Case Manager Need?

Global Social Service Workforce Alliance, Core Concepts and Principles of Effective Case Management: Approaches for the Social Services Workforce

Houston Chronicle, “The Difference Between a Social Worker and a Case Manager”

Houston Chronicle, “Examples of a Human Services Case Manager’s Work Duties”

Houston Chronicle, “The Requirements for Becoming a Caseworker”

Kaiser Permanente, Manager Social Services Case Management

PayScale, Average Case Manager, Social Services Salary

State of Illinois, Administrative Code, Title 77, Section 630.220, Outreach and Case Management

Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Types of Jobs in Child Protective Services (CPS)

Texas Health and Human Services, Case Worker Community Care for Aged and Disabled Handbook, Section 2000, Case Management

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Child Protective Services: A Guide for Caseworkers