What is Case Management in Social Work?

Case managers and social workers support society by aligning vulnerable populations with care and services that can help them. Case management in social work helps social workers and case managers manage complex cases, track progress, and report on outcomes.

In this article we’ll provide an overview of case management in social work, how case managers and social workers differ professionally, and what their day-to-day responsibilities look like.

What is Case Management in Social Work?

Case management is an integral component of modern social work. A 2006 NASW benchmark study showed that social workers spend more than 50% of their time doing case management. 

Social workers perform case management to create care plans, align clients with services, organize case data, monitor progress, and evaluate interventions over time. Social workers log client and provider interactions with case notes and perform regular follow-ups. They also coordinate care among a network of internal and external service providers to align care and keep everybody on the same page.


What are the Differences Between Case Management and Social Work?

Case managers and social workers often have cross-over in their job responsibilities. Social work is generally viewed as a field, whereas case management is a crucial administrative facet of effective social work. 

Social workers are usually government employees that must comply with strict federal, state, and local regulations. Social workers do case management to plan, monitor, and evaluate the services they’re providing to each client. Clinical social workers focus on providing crisis interventions and mental health counseling. They are trained to work with clients with a range of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. 

Social worker duties at-a-glance include:

  • Maintain accurate and compliant records.
  • Make referrals to outside agencies and treatment centers as needed. 
  • Deliver crisis intervention and mental health counseling if certified to do so. 
  • Develop comprehensive plans of care, coordinating treatment, and maintaining regular contact with providers. 
  • Follow up with clients regularly.


Case management, on the other hand, is a job function within the field of social work and healthcare. Case managers may work for a government agency, school, nonprofit, hospital, or other healthcare organization. 

Case manager duties at-a-glance include:

  • Collect, organize, and evaluate case data. 
  • Conduct assessments to gauge program and service eligibility and levels of need.
  • Make referrals to outside agencies and treatment centers as needed. 
  • Support clients and their families. 
  • Liaise between the client and service providers.
  • Apply case management models, such as evidence-based practice

Case managers and social workers alike handle client-based data that requires proper organization and secure storage in a case management software solution.

What Tasks are Involved in Case Management Within the Social Work Landscape?

Case managers and social workers performing case management tasks have a wide range of responsibilities. 

Case management in social work begins with the creation of a care plan, which includes performing intake, initial assessments, and evaluating available services. Care plans are individualized and created with the client’s goals, strengths, and community supports in mind. Social workers monitor progress via case notes and reporting. Each client interaction is logged to keep thorough and compliant records. 

Next, case managers coordinate services, which involves sending referrals, scheduling appointments, sending reminders, and monitoring client progress. Care plans aren’t rigid and can evolve depending on the client’s needs. 

Case managers and social workers provide essential services to society. Both of these professions come at a cost. As nonprofits compete for limited resources and funding, social workers and case managers can expect full caseloads, managing an average of 10 to 30 cases.


CaseWorthy saves case managers and social workers time and reduces burnout

Our compliant, secure, and fully customizable case management software helps nonprofits improve efficiency, saving time and money. CaseWorthy’s built-in features streamline and automate certain administrative tasks.

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