Berkshire Safeguarding Children Board Procedures
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2.5 Caseload Weighting Scheme Guidance Notes

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This guidance was added to the manual in January 2014.

Also see Caseload Weighting Template.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Principles
  3. How it Works
  4. Frequency of Review
  5. Team Manager Workloads
  6. The Weighting Sheets
  7. Minimum and Maximum Figures
  8. Application Guide to Weightings
  9. Other Related Matters


1. Introduction

This scheme has been designed for measuring casework within Child Care teams. It is not applicable without modification to other areas of work. It assumes that a significant amount of social worker and team manager time will be taken up with child protection cases (investigation and implementing Child Protection Plans), Looked After Children and preventive support offered to families and Children in Need. In addition, it seeks to give appropriate weighting to other types of cases and work, which may be very time consuming. This model has been piloted in other local authorities. Given the complexity of the social work task in a local authority setting, and the difficulty of predicting how long certain tasks will take, this scheme is only indicative and not definitive. That is, it’s a snap-shot, which gives an indication of the volume of any one caseload.

It is a tool intended to help social workers and their supervisor’s measure and manage work.


2. Principles

If a scheme such as this is too complicated it will fall into disuse. If it is too simplistic, it will not yield very much by way of useful information. There will no doubt be some cases, which this scheme fails to ‘weight’ sufficiently highly, and vice versa; overall, however, it seems to come up with a reasonably fair indication of caseloads.


3. How it Works

The scheme identifies the key tasks and types of case and awards specific weightings, each varying from 4 to 10 points. These include a two tier ranking for LAC cases to take account of the practical distinction between settled and demanding placements and an agreed weighting for student supervision where appropriate; additionally, intensive work on cases which are neither LAC nor CPR has been recognised in new categories and modified scorings.


4. Frequency of Review

Supervisors and Social Workers should review the weightings towards the end of each month, normally in the course of supervision. This allows an up-to-date picture to be put together quickly, representing an ‘end of month snapshot’. This process also allows for effective case allocations. The process also shows up excessive work under the individual column headings. For example, it easily shows that one SWs caseload contains too heavy a concentration of CPR or LAC or excessive travelling factors - trends that can be remedied by subsequent allocation patterns.


5. Team Manager Workloads

By aggregating team scores it is possible to produce data of comparative Team Manager workloads. This may reveal unexpected differences and help identify those managers with more opportunity to undertake special projects or investigations. The data produced also paints a picture of where the pressure points are across the service.


6. The Weighting Sheets

Cases are listed from top to bottom in the left-hand column. A family counts as one case for Child in Need or as individual children if Looked After or are placed on the CPR.

Each case/name attracts points under columns B through to I. The total for that case appears in column J. The assessment sheet has explanatory end notes and the column heads are repeated on each sheet to make the process of scoring easier. Please read - and where necessary refer back to - the endnotes. They settle most questions of interpretation and ensure consistency across teams.

The process of completing the grid should be done jointly between social worker and team manager, unless one is drafting a copy first for then joint discussion.


7. Minimum and Maximum Figures

No minimum or maximum figure has been set. There is a ‘bandwidth’ the department regards as average and reasonable for an experienced Social Worker. At this time this equates very broadly to 300 points to a new social worker, 350 for a more experienced social worker and 400 for a very experienced worker assuming they are also not supervising other staff. This takes into account duty cover, training and leave.


8. Application Guide to Weightings

When applied carefully will help ensure consistent scoring across teams (numbers relate to those in column headings).

First Column

Case name, each child if LAC or CPR or family name/s for children in need. Please ensure correct spelling and last name is first- this enables searches using the 'find' tool is easy.

Column B

A family of children in need will normally attract ten points for the whole family (i.e. one case). Children who are not LAC or CPR will not generally be listed separately unless they are independently in receipt of fieldwork/casework services. In some instances, one or more of these children will attract an individual score.

Where LAC or CPR each child attracts ten points, where there is a large sibling group discretion must be used. For example where on the CPR and all children live together and are being seen at the same time sibling groups over 3 should not attract more than 30 points total. However if placed separately as possible with LAC each child will attract ten points in their 'own right'.

Where joint working between two SWs involves each in most of the tasks, assess each SW as you would for any other case. If it is clear that one is the ‘lead SW’ and the other is playing a much reduced role, award full weighting to the first and a reduced weighting to the second (50% weighting is suggested).

Column C

Score for each Looked After Child. ‘Standard’ refers to stable, settled placements requiring little more than the minimum number of statutory visits, six-monthly LAC Reviews, medical and other routine duties. It includes maintaining contact with those who hold PR. Attracting six points.

Score for each Looked After Child where the placement requires an unusually high level of SW input (e.g. frequent weekly visits, high level of support to/contact with parents/carers, child and/or birth family). It is likely that new placements and children in transition between placements will attract this higher weighting for the first month but not indefinitely. Attracting an additional four points.

Column D

Each child on the Child Protection Register attracts six points per child. This takes account of visits to the home, and work with parents/carers, all the duties attached to being Key Worker (see Protecting Children Guidelines) and the preparation of reports to the CP conferences.

Where the case is on the CPR and is of unusual and above average complexity, an additional four points may be added. ‘Unusual and above average complexity’ means, for example, the active maintenance of a large professional network, problems of aggressive non co-operation, exceptionally high CP risk factors and frequent visits to the child (two or more a week by the SW).

Column E

For each case/family in court add five points (per family) except where the initial proceedings are underway and court papers (chronology, assessments, initial statements etc) are being produced in which case add an additional five points. If there are particularly complex court issues and a number of children and care plans then five points remain allotted until the case becomes more settled in the court arena. It does not include applications to revoke Care Orders or s37 Court Reports (i.e. pending care proceedings some months away do not count until the month in which the matter is heard). Directions appointments will not usually count unless exceptionally demanding of SW time and skill.

Column F

Core assessments attract ten points per child for CPR /LAC or ten points per child in need family for the 35 days in which the assessment is taking.

Enquiries under s47 CA 1989 into suspected abuse of a child. Applies only to the period from receipt of referral to CP conference (or closure). Attracts ten points.

Column G

Excessive travelling. Attracts points as follows:

  • Within the Slough area - no points;
  • Within immediate local neighbouring areas four points;
  • Where travel takes more than one hour and less than two each way) etc six points. Score the higher weighting of ten points where it takes more than two hours in each direction.

This is a permanent weighting whilst the case is open (i.e. not related to whether or not journeys were made in the month in question).

Column H

A time-limited specific provision by Social Worker (e.g. Life Story work with LAC) counselling sessions, specific programme such as parenting skills with parent or independence skills with care leaver). Should not run for more than three continuous months at the outside and explicitly agreed with Team Manager. 10 points per whole family is awarded for this intensive work.

Also where SW has direct role in carrying out supervision of contact In person in LAC cases, (not for managing the contact without supervising it). If contact is relatively infrequent e.g. less than once per month, this score should only be awarded for the month in which the contact takes place except in the case of ongoing supervision in person of contact sessions. 10 points per whole family is awarded for this intensive work.

Column J

More points may be awarded for short periods due to very complex/additional tasks but this will be discussed with Team managers and additional support given. This may include approved group work or other special project, which takes place within time normally, devoted to case-based work. May also include CP cases with multiple abuser features.


9. Other Related Matters

Leaving Care

Leaving Care adapt this system with an additional column that reflects the 'category' of young person being either eligible under the Children (Leaving Care) Act or Relevant or Former Relevant.

Column 'C' will attract six points if the young person is still looked after and aged 16-18 years of age.

Column D would not usually be used excepting the most complex of cases where active safety /child protection concerns exist.

Disabilities Children’s Team

Disabled Children’s Team use the same system, simply adding the cases that are 'Care Managed'. These show the 'non-active' social work cases that nonetheless require proactive reviewing and a communication point. These cases should be allocated 5 points. However where it is clear that a care managed case requires active social work the case will revert to the Team manager for full allocation.

End