The Fine Art of Case Planning

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The Fine Art of Case Planning

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:

  1. History of antisocial behavior
  2. Antisocial cognition
  3. Antisocial associates
  4. Antisocial personality

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.

Looking for more best practices? Check out our list of Top Strategies for Case Planning. And don’t hesitate to give us a call for additional resources, guidance, and thought partnership. We’re here to help.