Costs of Mandatory Education and Training Programs for Teenage Parents on Welfare: Lessons from the Teenage Parent Demonstration. Case Management


Although the exact responsibilities of case managers varied across sites depending on the other specialized positions included in the program staff, the basic functions of the case managers were to:

  1. Perform initial and ongoing assessment of participants and help them plan their program activities,
  2. Provide personal support and motivation,
  3. Coordinate the delivery of services and serve as advocates to help participants gain access to services,
  4. Enforce participation requirements, and
  5. Maintain case records.
  1. Initial and Ongoing Assessment and Planning.  When teenage parents had completed their intake session, they were assigned to a case manager who conducted an assessment interview and worked with the participant to develop a self-sufficiency plan for full-time program activity.(3)  The case manager was then responsible for ongoing monitoring, reassessment, and redirection of participants' program activities as needed.  This process occurred when the participant entered the program, and was repeated as necessary during the course of the participant's involvement in the program. 
  2. Personal Support and Motivation.  One of the largest challenges case managers faced was helping participants overcome the personal, family and community pressures that could undermine meaningful participation.  Case managers had to strengthen participants' faith in the possibility of building a better life, and help them develop some measure of confidence and self-esteem.  Case managers tried to provide encouragement and sympathy, but also clear and consistent expectations. 
  3. Service Coordination and Advocacy.  An important concern of the case managers was ensuring that participants gained access to needed services.  Case managers had to keep track of the availability of desirable education and training courses and program workshops, and fit together plans which made optimal use of available resources and participants' time.  Often they had to intercede on behalf of clients with other agencies, schools, or training providers. 
  4. Enforcing Participation Requirements.  Case managers -- or other staff in the case management unit -- enforced the requirement that eligible teenage parents participate in the program, including requirements for attendance at the initial intake session and regular attendance at later workshops, education or training courses, or a job.  Case managers, with support from clerical staff, monitored attendance at on-site activities as well as at public school and other off-site education and training courses.  When participants failed to attend as required, case managers sent warning notices to them, held conferences with them to identify and resolve problems that might be interfering with attendance, and in many cases eventually arranged for imposition of grant-reduction sanctions by income maintenance staff if the participant failed to comply. 
  5. Maintaining Case Records.  The program staff at the demonstration sites used a combination of computerized and manual systems to maintain records concerning assessment and self-sufficiency plans, program activity and status, case notes, attendance, and payment issuance.  These systems were also used to issue notices of scheduled workshops, warnings of sanction action for failure to attend program activities, other notices, and management reports.  Case managers also maintained written case narratives. 

Case managers were the core staff for providing these services.  For most of the demonstration period there were five case managers in Camden, five in Newark, and nine or ten in Chicago.  In addition, the demonstration staff included project managers, supervisors, and clerical and data entry support staff, some of whose time was devoted to case management functions.