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4.1.8 Workload management

Last Modified: 02-Aug-2018 Review Date: 02-Jul-2019

Purpose

To guide child protection workers (CPW) in complying with the 2008 WA Industrial Relations Commission Order regarding workload management (WLM) in the Department of Communities. The following policy statements apply:

  • WLM assists the Department of Communities to meet its legislative and statutory requirements by assisting districts to plan services to clients, and ensure effective management and prioritisation of child protection cases within available resources.
  • Child protection casework that is unable to be allocated is identified and the responsibility for this is managed at the appropriate level.
  • WLM ensures that every CPW has a reasonable caseload to manage, and provides comparative data across districts to guide appropriate resource allocation.
  • WLM data is formally recorded in Assist under the Workload Management Section and reported to ​senior management for accountability purposes.  
Practice Requirements
 
  • Team leaders (TLs) are responsible for allocating cases and monitoring case load allocations for CPWs and overseeing cases on the Team Leader Monitored List (TLML).
  • When allocating cases TLs need to consider the complexity and intensity of cases in line with CPW skills, knowledge and experience (see Chapter 4.1: Supervision in case practice/service delivery for further information).
  • Child protection case allocation is set at an upper limit of 15 cases per CPW (per full time equivalent) with exceptional circumstances allowing for a maximum ratio of 18 cases per worker (as per the WA Industrial Relations Commission Order).
  • Work that comes to an office is the responsibility of that district. The TL and district director need to consider all available resources and address any workload issues in responding to these demands.
  • TLs must ensure that in the lead up to Data Day, which is the first Friday of every month, that all WLM teams and CPWs on the teams have been entered into WLM in Assist and are accurate.
  • WLM reporting is located in Assist under 'Workload Management'. Assist mentors can provide assistance in recording the data on Assist.
  • New cases are allocated by the TL to CPWs, or where this is beyond the team's current capacity, recorded against the TL's name, which ensures they appear on the Team Leader Monitored Cases Report (TLMCR).
  • Cases on the TLMCR must be reviewed monthly (that is, in every new Planning Cycle), to assess any change to the safety and risk factors.
  • Children aged 5 years and younger may only be placed on the Monitored List after the safety and wellbeing assessment has been commenced in exceptional circumstances. This must be approved by the district director and the decision reviewed every two weeks. If any additional information/concerns are received an urgent review should occur to consider immediate allocation.
  • Cases which involve children in the Chief Executive Officer's (CEO's) care who are aged 2 years or under must not be placed on the Monitored List.
  • Children in the CEO's care who are aged between 3 and 5 years, where there are extraordinary reasons, may be placed on the Monitored List if the decision has been approved by the Executive Director State-wide and South East or Executive Director State-wide and South West). If the case remains on the Monitored List, the decision must be reviewed by the TL and/or district director every month and approved by the relevant Executive Director every three months.
  • If a district is unable to manage their workload as required through lack of resources, the district director must inform their Executive Director who will consider what responses are available to resolve the issue.

Note: CEO refers to the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Communities.   

Process Maps

Workload Management Reporting Process Flowchart.

Procedures

  • Case counting rules in Assist
  • Reviewing, planning and prioritising cases
  • Team Leader review of caseloads
  • New cases
  • Work that cannot be allocated – the Monitored List
  • Review and closure of cases on the Team Leader Monitored Cases Report
  • Actions and enquiries about cases on the Team Leader Monitored Cases Report
  • Recording Workload Management reports on Assist
  • Staff carrying more than 15 cases pro-rata
  • FTE available to manage cases
  • Workload Management Reports
  • Case counting rules in Assist

    For a case to be counted, the child protection worker allocated to the current case plan, assigned as shared case manager or recorded as Responsible Officer in an open Parent Support activity must be a team member in the WLM Planning cycle.

    Children in the CEO's care

    Each child in the CEO's care counts as one case if recorded in Assist as being under:

    • Provisional Protection and Care
    • Protection Order (time limited) or Protection Order (until 18), or
    • Negotiated Placement Agreement or Placement Service

    This count is applied to the shared case manager where allocated.

    Children receiving a Parent Support Service

    Each child receiving a Parent Support Service counts as one case to the worker recorded as Responsible Officer for the open Service provision activity.

    Families without children in the CEO's care

    A Family Group counts as one case where members are under 18 years, are not in care, and are the subject of the following specific Activities which are recorded as active in Assist:

    • Initial Inquiry
    • Family Support
    • Safety and Wellbeing Assessment
    • Intensive Family Support
    • Intervention
    • Protection Application
    • Supervision Order

    regardless of the number of Activities being provided or the number of children involved.

    Where a Family Group comprises children both in and not in the CEO's care

    • Each child in the CEO's care counts as one case.
    • If any child not in the CEO's care is recorded as receiving one of the Activities listed above, one case (additional to the total for the children in the CEO's care) is counted for the Family Group, and
    • No additional case is counted if a child in the CEO's care is recorded as the subject of one of these Activities.

    Co-working a child in the CEO's care has a case weighting of 0.5 for the co-worker and 0.5 for the case manager. Co-working a child not in the CEO's care does not count as a case. 

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    Reviewing, planning and prioritising cases

    It is the CPW's responsibility to review and plan their work to manage the cases allocated to them. It is the CPW's responsibility to prioritise the services they provide and if they are unable to complete the priority work it is their responsibility to discuss this with their TL.

    Case plans are developed at the point of intake and provide direction to CPWs and the family about our involvement and the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved with the case.

    CPWs can view their cases through My Page and through the Caseworker Planning Report.

    Where a case changes significantly and other work arises, the CPW must discuss this with his or her TL to prioritise the work and determine how it may be accommodated. 

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    Team Leader review of caseloads

    Team Leaders are responsible for reviewing the team’s and individual CPW’s workload to ensure an appropriate allocation of cases. Formal casework supervision of case workers is essential to workload management and sound practice.

    When allocating cases, ​TLs need to consider the complexity and intensity of cases in line with the CPWs skills, knowledge and experience (see Chapter 4.1: Supervision in case practice/service delivery for further information).

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    New cases

    When new cases are received, the TL allocates these, reallocating other cases where necessary, or places the cases on the Monitored List, if appropriate. Case plans should be reviewed and updated if required.

    Legally mandated cases are given priority and are to be attended to first. ​Refer to the WA Industrial Relations Commission Order for guidelines for workload prioritisation arising from caseloads (in related resources).

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    Work that cannot be allocated – the Monitored List

    New or existing cases that cannot be allocated within a team or with other district teams are allocated to the TL, and thereby automatically appear on the TLMCR. The TL reviews these monthly on a case by case basis.

    During supervision the TL and district director will discuss the priority work that cannot be allocated and how these cases can be responded to. This plan must be documented.

    The Order of the Industrial Court 2008 (Strategy for Caseload Management) states that once a case has been on the TLML for two weeks, the case is then put against the district director as Nominated Liaison Officer. Assist must be updated at this point to reflect this escalation up the line.

    Cases escalated to district directors are allocated to the district's District Director Monitored Cases Team and the district director is nominated as the WLM TL for the planning cycle.

    The district director then discusses how unallocated work can be responded to with the respective Executive Director on a regular basis. This process demonstrates that the Monitored List is not the sole responsibility of the TLs, and it supports the prioritisation of cases.

    Children aged 5 years and younger, who are not in the CEO's care, may only be placed on the Monitored List in exceptional circumstances and after the safety and wellbeing assessment (SWA) has been commenced. District directors must approve the decision to place these children on the Monitored List and review this decision every two weeks. If any additional information or concerns are received an urgent review should occur to consider immediate allocation.

    Cases which involve children in the CEO's care aged two years or younger must not be placed on the Monitored List. Children in the CEO's care aged between 3 and 5 years may, where there are extraordinary reasons, be placed on the Monitored List if the decision has been approved by the Executive Director State-wide and South East or Executive Director State-wide and South West. If the case remains on the Monitored List, the decision must be reviewed by the TL and/or district director every month and approved by the relevant Executive Director every three months. 

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    Review and closure of cases on the Team Leader Monitored Cases Report

    Cases on the TLMCR must be reviewed monthly to:

    • review the need for the case to remain on the TLMCR
    • review the case tasks
    • prioritise the work in the context of the district’s responsibilities (if required)
    • reallocate the case, and/or
    • decide if any further action is required.

    Following the monthly review of cases on the TLMCR, a case may be closed if it is determined that the child is no longer at risk of harm. If this is the situation after three months, the case should be considered for closure if no services/supports are being provided.​

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    Actions and enquiries about cases on the Team Leader Monitored Cases Report

    Actions and enquiries about cases on the monitored list are to be managed by the individual district’s systems, which may include duty TL, district director or a duty CPW. These processes are to be documented in the district and communicated to district staff and Executive Directors.​​

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    Recording Workload Management reports on Assist

    Within the monthly Planning Cycle, in the week leading up to the first Friday of the month (Data Day) each TL, with the support of the Assist mentor, is required to check and update the Planning Cycle and Team Report to ensure that:

    • the district team structure is accurately reflected in Assist
    • team members are current
    • case allocations are current and match workers
    • case types are correct for the worker, typically for example, CPWs should not be allocated carers, and
    • Full Time Equivalent (FTE) allocation is accurate for the fortnight leading up to Data Day.

    New teams can be created in WLM but must first be created in Assist. Districts need to contact the Assist Help Desk to have a team created in Assist.​

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    Staff carrying more than 15 cases pro-rata

    Staff who have more than 15 cases allocated in a planning cycle appear in the Staff Carrying More than 15 Cases Pro-rata Report in the WLM section of Assist.

    These reports can be accessed in Assist under the WLM section by entering the required Planning Cycle number and the relevant district.

    Case allocation is set at the upper limit of 15 cases per worker (per full time equivalent) with exceptional circumstances allowing for a maximum ratio of 18 cases on a temporary basis by negotiation with the applicable caseworker. ​

    Districts must abide by the Industrial Order which stipulates that it is unacceptable for any caseworker to have a pro rata case ratio greater than 18 cases.

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    FTE available to manage cases

    FTE

    FTE available to manage child protection cases is calculated over a fortnight and in the lead up to Data Day for reporting purposes. It does not include FTE devoted to duty or non-caseworker tasks and is not equal to the actual number of workers, as each worker may have a different proportion of FTE available for child protection case work.

    FTE available to manage cases is reduced for part time staff, staff performing duty, and other unplanned priority work which has been allocated from outside the CPW's case load. For example, a caseworker who does two days duty per fortnight would show 0.8 FTE available, as each day per fortnight equals 0.1 FTE.

    Leave

    When a CPW has leave for four weeks or less, the FTE is still recorded in the Planning Cycle on Assist for the staff member concerned and the cases remain allocated to them. 

    When a worker has leave for more than four weeks, the worker's name and FTE is removed from the Planning Cycle by the TL. The cases belonging to this caseworker are then reallocated to another case worker or against the TL, which is then automatically recorded on the TLML through the TLMCR in Assist under WLM.

    No cases

    If a caseworker is listed in the Planning Cycle but does not have any cases allocated, the FTE for that caseworker should be recorded as '0' for the particular Planning Cycle in Assist, next to the caseworker's name. This will cause 0 FTE to be allocated to the caseworker's name on the Team Caseload Summary Report.

    New workers

    Workers with no relevant experience must complete Child Protection Orientation Programs 1 and 2 (Program 1 and 2), training (previously Start Up) before they are allocated cases to manage. They can be given tasks arising from cases as long as they are closely supervised. These workers are included in the Planning Cycle on Assist, but have no cases allocated to them and no designated FTE recorded until they complete Programs 1 and 2.

    After completing Programs 1 and 2 a new worker with no relevant experience can hold a caseload at the discretion of the team leader. In principle, new child protection workers may hold 50% caseload on completion of Program 2, and hold 100% once deemed competent at the end of probation. The number of cases is dependent upon their skills and experience, and the nature of the cases.

    A new worker with relevant experience can manage some cases before completing Program 1. After Program 1 is completed, cases should be allocated based on skills and experience, and the nature of cases while waiting to attend Program 2.

    In the WLM Team Caseload Summary Report, new inexperienced workers are recorded with 'Yes' placed in the 'Needs Start Up (Programs 1 and 2)' box and 'No' placed in the 'Prior Experience' box on the Team Caseload Summary Report. Such workers must show '0' as the number of cases. 

    The following examples of caseload are represented in the chart below:

    • Worker 1 has a reduced caseload due to performing duty two days a week.  The full-time equivalent caseload is 15 cases.
    • Worker 2 is a full-time, experienced worker with a full case load of 15.
    • Worker 3 is a new worker, yet to complete Programs 1 and 2, with no prior child protection experience, so has a caseload of 0.
    • Worker 4 is a new worker, yet to complete Program 1, with child protection experience from interstate.  Due to their level of experience, they have a caseload of 12.
    • Worker 5 is a full-time 'non-case carrying' worker for WLM purposes, for example a Duty Officer or Team Leader. Caseload is recorded as 0.

    WLM Team Caseload Summary Report example:

    ​Worker​Needs Program 1 and 2​Prior Exper-
    ience
    FTE for WLM​CIC Cases​Other cases​Total cases​Full time equiv (pro-rata)​
    ​1No​No​0.8​12​0​12​15​
    ​2No​No​1​11​4​15​15​
    3​Yes​No​0​0​0​0​0​
    4​Yes​Yes​1​6​6​12​12​
    5​No​No​0​0​0​0​0​​

     

    Pro-rata caseload

    Pro-rata caseload is derived by dividing the total number of cases held by a worker (adjusted for co-working) by the proportion of FTE they have available for casework.  For example:

    • 12 cases/0.8 FTE for casework = pro-rata caseload of 15, and
    • 14 cases/0.8FTE for casework = pro-rata caseload of 17.5

    Establishment FTE

    Establishment FTE is the actual base FTE for case management positions regardless of whether the position is currently vacant or filled. It only includes CPWs, senior CPWs, community CPWs, senior community CPWs, field workers and senior field workers. This information is provided by Human Resources.

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    Workload Management Reports

    Following Data Day, the following reports are automatically generated for review and analysis:

    • Allocated and Monitored Cases per District
    • Monitored Cases per District
    • Staff Carrying More than 15 Cases per District
    • Team Leader Monitored Cases by District
    • Exception Report, and
    • District Summary Reports by District for Allocated and Monitored Cases.

    TLs must check the Exception Report before "Data Day" that there are no CPWs managing child protection cases listed. If there are they need to be included in the appropriate Workload Management team.

    Children who are on a Protection Order (Special Guardianship) should not be showing on the Exception Report.

    Workload management reports and information are provided to our corporative executive, the districts and the Community and Public Sector Union/Civil Service Association of WA. 

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