Child Welfare Workload Studies

Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Child and Family Services
Workload Study

In 2017, HZA completed a workload study for the Maine Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS), conducted in response to an organizational assessment the firm conducted in which widespread concern was voiced by staff that there were not sufficient staff to handle its current demand. The results of the study were used to determine, based on caseloads at the end of December 2016, if additional caseworkers were needed. While an overall net need of authorized as well as filled positions was evidenced, at least two of OCFS’ eight districts were found to have more staff than are needed. Maine has a process by which reports of maltreatment can be referred to a contracted alternative response provider, offering districts the opportunity to refer less severe reports of abuse or neglect. An analytic tool was designed to enable OCFS to measure the impact on its caseload if all referrals were assigned for investigation, at both the statewide and district levels, as well as to enable supervisors to measure the volume of cases any one worker can handle at a time.

 

Minnesota Department of Human Services
Child Welfare Workload Study and Analysis

A workload study was conducted for the Child Safety and Permanency Division to develop time standards for investigative, in-home and permanency caseworkers. Using the results of the study, HZA developed an analytic tool which enables counties to correlate staffing need with the ability to achieve positive outcomes for children and families. In the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Issue Brief “Caseload and Workload Management,” April 2010, HZA’s study conducted for Minnesota is described along with the Workload Analytic Tool. The Child Welfare Information Gateway reports the “tool has been well received by county administrators who described it as ‘awesome’ and found it useful in considering staff workloads.” The tool is described as “an innovative and easy-to-use tool to help counties manage their child welfare workloads.

 

Virginia Department of Social Services
Workload Study

HZA conducted a statewide workload study in recent years as a follow-up to an earlier one the firm had performed to reflect changes in policy and practice. The study involved multiple social services programs, including child and adult services, public and medical assistance, food stamps and employment services. HZA produced a web-based time study tool which was used to record all case specific activities performed in a prescribed period for a sample of cases in order to determine the amount of time it took to complete each activity. Counting only the cases that met a policy standard such as monthly visits to children in foster care, this part of the study showed how much time a case required if it were to be handled in accordance with policy requirements. The other major data collection activity involved a random moment survey which measured the amount of time caseworkers had available to spend on case specific activities. Together these two pieces of information revealed how many cases of which types workers could reasonably be expected to handle.

 

Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services
Time Study and Regional Differences

HZA conducted a time study for the Department’s child welfare program to determine whether there were sufficient staff to carry out all its mandates. Finding inequality among allocations of staff across the regions, HZA conducted a secondary study to determine whether casework practice was consistent across the state. Factors which impact workloads, including those beyond the control of the agency (e.g., community support), were identified. A series of recommendations were offered to improve practice and equalize caseloads across the regions.