From Viviana Torres Davila, Vocational Rehabilitation Administration, Puerto Rico:

1. Orientations: In 2014 the Quality Control Office (QCO) staff visit regional offices, were rehabilitation counselors (case managers) are, and mentioned to them the need to take action with those cases that have been in certain status so long and how that may help to reduce their caseloads. We also mentioned the importance of work plans to do that and also comply with performance standards.

2. Reports: We have some reports that are generated from our computerized case management system (CRIS) and I will talk to the programmer to create another to help in this matter. Counseling Supervisors have access to those reports and do follow up to their counselors in order to take action with those who have being in certain status longer than the expected period of time. The report that we will expect to develop soon will include, by counselor, days in other status although not necessary there’s a specific minimum or maximum amount of time to be in that status. That will help us (the Quality Control Office and the Counseling Supervisors) to evaluate if the caseload is high because it has cases that requires action (follow up or closure).

3. Reports Sharing: The QCO sent to Regional Directors an Counseling Supervisors, performance reports on a monthly basis. That Includes compliance with federal performance standards and other performance and/or action taken criteria. That helps Supervisors to do follow up and support Counselors with their compliance and other case management issues.

4. Pre-orientation: When a person visits a regional office or satellite office the Counseling Technicians (counselor’s aides) provide orientation about VR Services and requirement, and may schedule a later meeting with the Rehabilitation Counselor to start the application process. That, as Teresa from Alaska said, helps to identify if the person “is in the right place, ready to actively participate” before completing an application.

When caseloads increase regardless of the strategies mentioned above, I agree with what Victoria Drake said about the importance to review the tasks of case managers and their support team. Which tasks can be done by other people to help counselors have more time for clients.

From Teresa Pitt, Alaska DVR:

Alaska doesn’t currently have large caseloads, anywhere from 45-100, 65 on average. At one time we did have caseloads exceeding 100. Most offices conduct group orientations and then a counselor quickly meets with a potential applicant for appx 15-20 minutes to determine if the individual is in the right place, ready to actively participate. We have found that this brief meeting before the individual makes application has reduced some applications or delayed application until the client is really ready to engage. It has helped potential applicants truly understand the scope of our services. Our acceptance rate is much higher now than before we started this practice.

This is not a policy but a business practice. We still do some individual orientations and always do individual intake interviews.

I hope this is helpful.

From David Higginbotham, Louisiana Rehabilitation Services:

This past year the agency reduced caseload size from and average of 210+ to approximately 120 consumers by essentially having a “Closed Other” campaign. An attempt to contact each consumer in a dormant case was made, and if the consumer did not repsond the case was closed. Some conusmers requested case closure and in some instances the case was reactivated. We probably will not be able to assess the effect on counselors and consumers until the end of 2015.

From Richard Clark, Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services:

We have had this issue as well. One of the ways we have tried to handle this is through a workforce planning model. We have built levels of staff to support our clients. We have three levels of rehabilitation staff; Counselor, Rehabilitation Associates and Rehabilitation Assistance. Since we have funding concerns we had to find ways to bring on more staff without increasing our cost. As we had counselors leave we started replacing them with the other classifications. We found that for about two counselors we could hire two associates and one assistant. The counselors are still the only ones that can determine eligibility and develop plans but the associates would then be more of a case manager for those clients that need less support such as college students. The assistance would assist with intakes, getting medical records, filling out job applications and so on. The counselors, associates and assistants would work as a team with their support staff to meet with the clients regularly and coordinate services. Through this process we are able to serve a larger caseload without reducing quality of services. Just for your information Counselors are master level, Associates are Bachelors level and assistants are usually at the bachelors level or lower based on experience as they would be doing some clerical work as well.

From Victoria Drake, Department of Rehab Okla/Case file Auditor:

As an auditor, my recommendation would not necessarly be to reduce case size, but to find alternatives. Such as how much time is spent in front of a “computer” doing “data entry duties” that could be assigned to a “secretarial” position. Think Dictation is a must. Lots of technology out there to assist in dictation duties. Federal Regulations only specify that a QVRC do 4 “things” on a case file, Eligibility determination, IPE/Plan signature/Annual reviews/closures. Other case management duties could be assigned to a “Case Manager/Rehab Tech. Review who is doing what, and is it necessary for that QVRC to do those duties. It could possibly free up time for them to actually due face to face working with applicants/clients. Is Job Placement personal doing to assist? Evaluators? The total team effort would need to be assessed, when it needs to be addressed, and by whom and what duties it entails. Just a suggestion. Thank you.

Posted in: Caseload Management