Wisconsin Workload Study

In collaboration with WCHSA, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) issued an RFP for a statewide workload study in May 2019, and in August 2019, the workload study contract was awarded to ICF, Inc. to complete a statewide child welfare staffing and workload evaluation. Their work was directed by an oversight committee that included DSP and WCHSA representation, as well as local agency leadership from both county agencies and the DCF Division of Milwaukee Child Protective Services. 

DSP cautions against utilizing this data in isolation, as many factors affect workload and caseload. The workload study results are just one piece of Wisconsin’s caseload and workload puzzle. The following limitations should be considered when using the workload study results:

  • The model reflects recorded practice during the March 2020 workload time study and does not necessarily reflect the time required to ensure optimal outcomes for children and families. 
  • Additionally, the model reflects data gathered prior to the Family First transformation. This transformation, when realized, will require more in-home cases necessitating smaller caseloads per case manager to address safety issues in the home with wholistic case practices.
  • Wisconsin’s child welfare system is county-administered outside of DMCPS. Staffing structures and organizational operations of each agency vary widely across the state. As such, the study’s results will not be a perfect match for every agency.
  • These results were calculated using the average time spent on a case and do not account for the high variability in the amount of time spent on cases.
  • Additionally, there are several factors that make the suggested caseload standard for youth justice less reliable than other practice areas. Youth Justice (YJ) was included in this study to account for staff with mixed caseloads.  However, the following factors should be taken into consideration when using this caseload guidance:
  • There is statewide variability in YJ use of eWiSACWIS.
  • The standards of practice for YJ casework are less defined standards of practice than those established for child protective service casework.
  • The multi-year implementation of the Youth Assessment and Screening Instrument (YASI) is still in progress and is intended to influence case practice in multiple ways, thus impacting time spent on YJ cases.

Results

An executive summary and final report have been completed by ICF, Inc. and present analysis on information gathered throughout the study, including qualitative data from interviews and focus groups and quantitative data from the time study. 

Suggested caseload standards were calculated by ICF, Inc. from the monthly average time per case in each of the practice areas. These standards can be found in the Workload Study Infographic in the resource section below. 

A staffing tool that local agencies can use has also been created in order to assist in estimating local level staffing needs. Data from eWISACWIS and internal staffing rosters or the DCF Random Moment Time Study rosters can be utilized with this tool to determine if current staffing levels are sufficient for attending to the work required to service a given caseload. 

Given the limitations described above to ICF Inc.’s suggested caseload standard, DSP and WCHSA recommend that individual counties are in the best position to determine how these standards and the staffing tool referenced below best apply to their respective agencies and the caseloads of their child welfare workforce. 

The suggested caseload standards and staffing tool should always be used in coordination with other forms of information and not in isolation or as a solution in and of itself. Our state’s child welfare system is complex and other factors such as job satisfaction, staff experience, agency structure and operations, local service array and performance outcomes for children and families should be taken into consideration. Additionally, family factors can add layers of complexity that may increase the amount of time required to provide high quality services. These family factors may include alcohol or substance abuse concerns, domestic violence, large families, youth justice dual involvement, or families covered by the Indian Child Welfare Act or the Wisconsin Indian Child Welfare Act, etc. 

Webinars

DSP will be hosting state-wide webinars to discuss the results of the Workload Study. For your selected webinar date, click the link below to download the calendar invitation.

Resources

The following resources provide more detailed information about the workload study methodology and results: