Case planning: It’s an art. It’s a science. It’s a tough job.
Pulling together a plan that sets the right goals on the right timeline supported by the right programming sounds as elusive as painting the perfect crooked smile on the Mona Lisa, and in a way, it is. But with skill, experience, and supportive programming, it can be done.
How? As always, we start with the Big 4. The Big 4 criminogenic needs are not only the key to reducing recidivism, they’re also among the most difficult factors to change in a person:
History of antisocial behavior
As you’re working to guide change, here are some factors to consider:
Client motivation – This comes down not only to how motivated the person is to change, but also to what motivates them to change: intrinsic or extrinsic Through your risk/needs assessment and direct conversations with the person, pinpoint what motivates their actions. Their case plan goals and tasks will be based on those motivating factors.
Availability of resources – Work with what you have! Lack of resources is a serious barrier in many agencies, and while you’re not alone in the struggle, it doesn’t solve the issue. Know what’s available to you, get a little creative, and match your client’s input with your selection of resources.
Stability needs – Make sure your clients’ basic needs are met first. Safe housing and stable employment, among other things, are necessary before individuals can make other positive life changes.
Acute factors – It’s easy to overlook acute risk factors (e.g., employment, education, substance use) because they’re not criminogenic (causing criminal behavior). Just because a person drinks alcohol / didn’t finish high school /doesn’t have a job, etc. doesn’t mean they’re going to commit a crime. But, these are areas that are ripe for early successes that can bolster confidence and lead to more substantive changes.
Protective factors – On a basic level, protective factors are strengths. They’re a set of behaviors or conditions that an individual possesses that buffer against re-offense. Every person on your caseload has protective factors that can be leveraged for their success. Use both your risk/needs assessment and input from your client to help you identify what those are.
Working through some of these behind-the-scenes elements can improve your track record toward turning around the Big 4.
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