Tumblr social work community: are any of you case managers? I am interested in hearing about your jobs, what you like, what you hate.
I have a perception of case management but I do not know if it’s correct. On the one hand, it seems like probably the best job for learning the nitty-gritty of the resources in your area and how to interact with those systems. On the other hand, it seems like the lowest-paid, least-respected jobs that they foist upon new grads so they can get their licensure hours at an exploitative pittance, and who gives a fuck if they burn out in a year or two from being confronted by the overwhelming lack of options available to clients in need. Basically, these seem like high turnover jobs that, if not explicitly designed to be so, nobody much seems to mind if they are and remain so, because it allows the niche to be filled by desperate workers.
This is gleaned from looking at the job postings and terrible pay, and noticing that case management jobs are one of the few that have job requirements explicitly crafted to make them accessible to new MSWs, and noticing that I have never met the same case manager on a case twice, even if it’s only been six months. But maybe that’s just in my area??? Is it better somewhere else???
Okay so I’ve not actually worked as a case manager but I work with a lot of case managers and basically, both of your perceptions are true. It also largely depends on WHERE you are a case manager. For instance, at the place I’m interning and most of the places I’m applying to, case management isn’t just linkage to care and resources, it’s also skill building and individual therapy (these are all community mental health agencies doing PSR work).
I actually think case management is a really vital part of social work. Unfortunately, as you mentioned, it’s low-paying and not respected. Case management positions are designed for high-turnover because of the low-pay. These places expect that you will leave after a couple years. The positions I’m seeing around here are offering around $32,000/year with some offering a small pay bump with the first level of licensure and then a slightly larger one with your LCSW. It’s infuriating because these jobs are so important to our clients’ well-being but the system is set up to ensure zero consistency of care for them. It makes me really angry but I have no idea how to go about affecting change. It seems insurmountable.
That said, I will probably end up in a case management role, will probably stay there the 2-3 years I need to get my LCSW and then I’ll probably move on because FUCK YOU, PAY ME. I know I’m just continuing the fucked up system but dammit, I cannot live on $32K for more than a couple years.
I FEEL YOUR DILEMMA. Case management seems like a crucial job, and the people who go through it seem to pick up so much that’s important to all of social work, but I have this intense antipathy toward taking a case management job because I can also see how these jobs are part of an oppressive exploitative labor structure, and I feel like my field is coercing MSWs into this work and making all other options inaccessible.
I think I would really like case management and get a lot out of it, but the labor practices are so brutalizing that I am so resistant to playing into the system. But also, where the fuck else am I gonna go??? This MSW is almost worthless without licensure, and there are so few paths to get the hours for that licensure. And also, how the fuck does case management end up as a path to licensure? Two years of case managing does not prepare me to be a therapist, but according to my local board of social work, it sure enough does, and to me that’s the biggest proof that this two-year purgatory was explicitly designed to funnel desperate workers into exploitative jobs.*
I don’t run into a lot of older workers in the field who are aware of this. Every now and again, I’ve heard my supervisor mention something about, “Oh, they got a case manager, but they seemed really young and didn’t know what they were doing?” and I ask what company it is, and then I’m like, “ha ha ha ha oh yes that company runs on the blood of interns, and they have a turnover rate of about one year, and they pay $11 an hour.” SHOCKER that you’re getting case managers who are terrified, tired, and incompetent, but who fuckin’ cares if your stats look good? Turn that shit into the county and collect your contract dollars.
*This is not to say that case management doesn’t have therapeutic components to it, but it’s completely dependent upon the person and company, as far as I can tell — “case management” is not a job that will necessarily include counseling, so I fail to see how this is a job that allows you to prepare to be a counselor, which means there’s some other function being served by allowing case management to count for clinical licensure hours.
Agreed. I mean, I know that the first agency I interviewed at (largest mental health care provider in the area and supposedly in the Midwest according to them) does have some case managers who have been there for years and years and I guess if you stay long enough (and obtain your LCSW), you can make a decent wage. But you gotta put in a lot of years for that. And you’re right, the quality of experience gained depends entirely on the agency. Most case management jobs aren’t going to be like sitting down and doing one-on-one therapy with someone but there certainly is clinical experience to be gained at some places (again, particularly with community mental health agencies and/or agencies that do PSR work). I can’t imagine gaining that experience at a general non-profit, though (one that doesn’t specifically work with folks with mental illness I mean).