Review of case management models with vulnerable families

The New South Wales Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) invited the Parenting Research Centre, in partnership with the University of Melbourne, to review the evidence on the effectiveness of case management for vulnerable families.

FACS has been conducting a significant reform of its prevention, early intervention, intensive, and community programs. The reform aims to improve outcomes and reduce risk for vulnerable children, young people, and families.

As part of this reform, we were engaged to identify and assess evidence relating to case management models for vulnerable families and to identify systems and structures that may support case management.

Our review of the evidence, entitled Rapid evidence assessment of case management with vulnerable families, was completed in September 2015

We used a rapid evidence assessment methodology to identify national and international evidence on case management models. Our systematic search found 22 evaluated case management models.

Some of the activities associated with case management that we identified included:

  • assessment
  • coordination of, referral to and linking with services
  • case monitoring and planning
  • development of individualised plans
  • provision of information and education
  • provision of direct therapies, services and supports.

While we did find some positive findings related to studies of case management delivered to families in the early parenting years, for families with complex needs, and in services for children and youth, the evidence is not definitive.

Case management is best considered as a method of maximising access to individualised services, rather than an intervention in itself. In order to be successful for different client populations, case management needs to be combined with high quality evidence-based services.

Working closely with the commissioning team within FACS, we provided information in a format and structure that was useful to them, and explained how the evidence fits with existing practice in the New South Wales context.

FACS intends to use this report to inform their ongoing service reform and to develop case management models and related support systems that show promise for improving outcomes for their clients.

Download the report

Download the appendix

Read more about the reform on the FACS website.