Caseload Management Forum Update: Sept. 8, 2022
Dear OCEA member,
Since the last CFS Caseload Management Forum OCEA members and staff have been working hard to organize the workplace to continue to raise our voices for change. This internal organizing has primarily involved meeting with the Agency Director to reiterate our demands, pre-meeting with ER workers in preparation for the August CMF, and finally meeting on Aug. 31 for the CMF meeting. Below is a recap of those efforts.
Prior to our August Caseload Management Forum, OCEA leaders felt it was important to escalate our key demands to the Agency Director. In previous meetings CFS management has been reluctant to commit to the core function of the CMF. Under the Memorandum of Understanding, one of the objectives of the Caseload Management Forum (CMF) is to find “manageable caseload levels within budgetary limitations.” Further, the MOU provides: “When Agency caseloads are above target, agencies will prioritize case management activities in consultation with the Caseload Management Forum.” At our July meeting, the focus was again Court Services. Our efforts to establish “manageable caseload levels” or “targets” did not go well. CFS Management continued to be unwilling or unable to comply with the MOU. But that is not management’s prerogative—the Agency must respect and follow the terms of the MOU.
On Aug. 16, OCEA leadership met with Ahn Tran, Christine Snapper, and Hilda Juarez to clarify our position and obtain assurances that the Agency will adhere to the MOU. At this meeting the Agency Director assured OCEA leadership that he understands the intent of the forum and will proceed accordingly. We subsequently received the following letter from Mr. Tran confirming the Agency will comply with the MOU.
August Caseload Management Forum
On Aug. 31, the CMF focused on Emergency Response (ER). Prior to the meeting, OCEA staff and workplace leaders met multiple times to review the unique issues facing ER workers. While there are universal challenges facing Senior Social Workers in CFS, the unique challenges to each program require unique solutions.
Our agenda included the following topics/issues:
2. Caseload Target
3. ER PM Shift
4. Holiday Scheduling
We discussed taking proactive steps to preserve the “intent” of the regions, which is to reduce travel time so that workers can maximize their social work time. OCEA member Nancy Genovese and other workers will work on recommendations that could include a volunteer “roving” assignment social worker who could handle some of the extra cases to keep with the intent of the regions. Please provide Nancy with any input you have on this topic.
We are making some exciting progress in this area. Because of the pressure created by OCEA members, the agency is ramping up its recruitment and hiring! According to management, they need to fill over 100 positions in ER. The team is working on a system that would automatically notify a Supervisor through ERAS when a worker has a caseload that is growing above what is manageable. In this scenario the Supervisor and worker would check-in and assess the caseload and any steps that should be taken to keep the caseload manageable. We are hoping to get the target caseload in ER to 12-14 referrals for “average” cases. We are committed to continue to work towards developing this caseload target.
Resolving this issue so that workers can find additional work/life balance has been a top priority of the CMF. We received assurances that 8 full-time PM workers will be in place by December 2022. Additionally, the team discussed the buddy system for late night referrals and received confirmation that the Agency is willing to compensate for a buddy. The Agency committed to allowing a buddy when needed, but please communicate with your chain of command. If you have any difficulties or push-back on ANY issue related to safety, contact your workplace Steward.
OCEA knows certainty around the holidays is important for all workers. Thanksgiving weekend, Christmas, and New Years are coming, and we don’t want management to dictate coverage. Suggestions were made in our meeting to incentivize working these holidays. OCEA will soon make a formal proposal to the Agency and County.
The next Caseload Management Forum will again focus on ER. We have important issues that we need to resolve.
REMEMBER—you do not have to wait until your program’s forum date to work on caseload solutions! You can reach out to an OCEA Labor Relations Representative to collaborate on caseload solutions and to address other workplace issues or concerns. Please visit the SSA section of ocea.org for OCEA staff contact information.
Publication Date: September 8, 2022