Case Progression Policy
Quality Assurance Framework (Forms/Practice Guidance)This chapter was added to the manual in April 2016.
The aim of this policy is to provide guidance on the use of the Case Progression framework for all staff working in Kent County Council Children's Social Work Teams. Case Progression was developed as part of Kent's 0-25 Transformation in 2014/15.
2. Policy Statement
Kent County Council's Social Care, Health and Wellbeing Directorate is committed to the use of the Case Progression Framework. This policy sets out what the Case Progression Framework is and how it should be used to best effect.
3. Scope of this Policy
This policy applies to all staff working in or supporting Children's Social Work Teams in Kent County Council, whether on a temporary (including agency staff), permanent, full time or part time basis. This includes practitioners, social work assistants, managers, quality assurance staff and administration officers.
4. Objective of Case Progression
The aim of Case Progression is to reduce case drift and give practitioners support and challenge from their team to ensure they are always working in the most effective and purposeful way with their children and families. Reducing drift and working more effectively enables families to achieve their outcomes faster and more sustainably. The effect of this is a reduction in caseload, giving practitioners more time to work with the families that need their support the most.
5. What does Case Progression Look Like?
Case Progression is driven by practice rather than process. It uses the Signs of Safety framework to support a child centred approach to case discussions, to be specific about the worries about a family, what needs to change and the progress made toward the goals agreed through the assessment, CIN or CP Plan.
Case Progression meetings are underpinned by a process that enables the visual tracking of the progress of the case, and which triggers a team discussion where drift or delay is identified. This is displayed for the team on a series of whiteboards, enabling them to quickly see which cases need to be discussed each week. Reviewing cases at the agreed date offers support and challenge for the practitioner in undertaking the work they are planning and helps them to reflect on the impact of that work on a child's situation.
Case progression breaks down the journey of a family within social care into 6 stages. These stages are:
- Agreeing a plan and outcomes with a family;
- Building the desire to change;
- Making change;
- Sustaining the change;
N.B. A child or family does not have to follow these stages in a linear fashion and can skip stages or even move backwards.
There is explicit reference to the agreed multi-agency plan for each child at each case discussion and the process supports statutory CIN/CP reviews in ensuring that the outcomes are being achieved to the timescales identified, and in supporting the social worker in considering ways forward where these are not being achieved.
Case Progression, in its simplest form, evokes conversations at pivotal moments in a child's journey to ensure timely progression and purposeful Intervention. It reminds social workers to reflect frequently on the change process for the family and adapt the interventions and plans in accordance with individual needs.
It evokes discussion to support the understanding of a family, the worries for the child and how to plan a purposeful and timely intervention, keeping the child central to all discussions. It does not make case management decisions outside of supervision or multi-agency processes.
Weekly Case Progression meetings utilise the Signs of Safety theoretical framework which includes group discussion, mapping and scaling. The discussion includes the safety plan for a child, planning the intervention and confirming that the intervention is effective and measurable. Interventions and actions are set within the appropriate timescale for the child and family. They offer an opportunity for safe critical reflection and challenge. These cases are then considered at the weekly meeting. Focus will be placed on those cases, where potential drift has been identified.
The accountability for decision making remains with the Team/Service Manager, and no case should be identified for closure or Step Down without explicit consideration of the views of the child, family and the professional network and reference to Kent's thresholds for intervention.
The Case Progression Framework includes some key elements to ensure this model is used to drive good practice from practitioners:
- Case Progression Boards – Each of the 6 stages has a board. Each sensible family group is represented on a magnetic tile which is placed onto the appropriate board;
- Case Progression Meetings – Where the boards are used to identify when families are progressing onto a new part of their plan or getting stuck at a certain stage of the change process. These cases are then discussed as a group using the Signs of Safety framework which should result in a consideration of the effectiveness of the plan and the need for changes to enable the family to continue to progress;
- Recording of Discussions – When a case is discussed, the content should be recorded on the child's file and the group supervision template in Liberi used to record the content of the discussion.
It is not possible to discuss all cases within a team at the meeting, so dates are put on each family's tile to help prompt discussions at the right time. These dates are based on clear and agreed expectations in relation to the goals that have been agreed in the child's plan and agreed timescales for these to be achieved. The prompt to have this discussion is made very visual by moving the family's tile into the amber or red section at the bottom of each board (as the date is due in the next two weeks or becomes overdue).
6. Expectation of All Staff Engaging with Case Progression
The facilitator of the meeting should:
- Be prepared before the meeting by the Team Manager (as specified in the Case Progression Guidance document);
- Follow the Case Progression agenda;
- Ensure all discussion is based on a thorough knowledge of the case, the child's plan and an up to date and meaningful chronology that evidences the child and family's history;
- Offer meaningful support and challenge.
The whole team should:
- Attend the meeting every week unless their absence is agreed appropriate by the Team Manager.
7. General Principles of Case Progression for All Staff
Case Progression complements 1:1 supervision to:
- Improve the quality of decision making and intervention;
- Enable effective line management and organisational accountability;
- Identify issues related to caseloads and workload management to be addressed in supervision;
- Support the further development of Signs of Safety;
- Actively share knowledge between practitioners;
- Provide practitioners with a better knowledge of each other's cases and produce more detailed short-term plans. This enables practitioners to cover each other more effectively;
- Use reflection and constructive challenge to support evidence based decision making based on professional judgement.
8. Frequency of Case Progression Meetings
Case Progression Meetings should last approximately 90 minutes. The agenda of Case Progression has been designed to ensure that all cases requiring discussion in a specific week will be discussed.
They should occur weekly for each team. If, for example, they occurred fortnightly, then:
- It would not be possible to cover all the cases that need to be discussed from the previous two weeks;
- Drift may not be identified as quickly;
- If a practitioner cannot attend on a specific week, then it may be a month before their cases get discussed.
9. Recording of Case Progression
The recording of Signs of Safety discussions is the responsibility of the administrator attending the meeting. It is the responsibility of the Team Manager to authorise the wording of the record. All Signs of Safety mapping and decisions should be entered on each relevant child on Liberi through the use of the group supervision template.
10. Confidentiality and Access
Case Progression boards hang on the wall in local offices. Families are represented by magnetic tiles that are then placed on the appropriate board. To recognise the family, the names of the children should be written as follows:Use the first initial of the child's first name and the first two letters of the surname (e.g. Thomas Wright = TWr).
11. Quality Assurance
This section should be read in conjunction with the Quality Assurance Framework which identifies the quality assurance tasks for all managers with regards to the social work task.
In order to be effective, the Case Progression process requires that monitoring and quality assurance arrangements are in place.
The quality assurance process ensures that the Practice Standards of Case Progression are being maintained and that the child is central to all decisions. It ensures that:
- All staff are engaging in a meaningful way;
- All decisions are being recorded;
- Progress toward identified outcomes is tracked and stuck cases are reviewed in a timely way preventing drift;
- The discussion is based on a full knowledge and understanding of the family's history;
- The discussion supports and informs the multi-agency assessment, CIN or CP planning process and incorporates the voice of the child;
- Decisions to close or Step Down cases are based on clear evidence (through Signs of Safety scaling) that the specified outcomes for the child have been achieved;
- Contingency plans are known and implemented where a plan is not working;
- There is clear accountability for decision making;
- The reflective discussion uses the Kent's framework for practice (Signs of Safety), supports an evidence based approach and offers constructive professional challenge;
- The reflective support enables a case to move forward with the most appropriate level of intervention and safeguarding.
Quality assurance arrangements should involve:
- As a minimum it is expected that each Case Progression meeting is audited every two months against the agreed quality assurance tool;
- There is an expectation that Service Managers and Practice Development Officers and Team Managers audit each team's Case Progression meeting alternately twice per year;
- Formal audits should include cross referencing with case files to quality assure decision making and recording;
- A regular dip sample audit (timescales and process to be agreed) considers a sample of closed/Stepped Down cases 3 - 6 months after closure to test that changes for the child have been achieved and sustained. Cases that are re-referred or re-opened over this period should be reviewed (process to be agreed) to support learning in relation to the case progression process.