A Central America girl with long dark brown hair put up with a pink elastic and has a green hair band in her hair. She has been photographed in profile (her left side). She is not smiling.
Genesis, 12 was detained in Mexico while travelling with her sister Graciela to meet their mom in the US and escape the violence in their home country. In spite of all the hardships in the trip - hunger, extortion, fear- she says they will try again.

Making Decisions - what is case management and why is it important?

Once an unaccompanied or separated child has been identified we can use the process of case management to help us make decisions with, and for, the child. Case management should also be used for those children travelling with parents, a legal/customary carer, or other family members who may also be at risk of harm.

Case management consists of a series of actions and procedures that help us:

  • Accurately assess and identify each individual child’s needs, circumstances and wishes
  • Make sure a child’s best interests are a primary consideration
  • Support the participation of children in decision making and the planning of care and support
  • Systematically monitor each child’s circumstances and make adjustments as necessary

Case management is relevant for children who are in transit or have reached their country of final destination.

Using the case management process can also help contribute towards decisions about the most appropriate long-term care and protection solutions for an unaccompanied or separated child. This might include such arrangements as voluntary repatriation to the child’s country of origin, resettlement in a new country, or integration in the country that the child has already reached.

What are the steps of case management?

Following an initial identification and/or registration process we discussed in previous course pages, the steps of case management include:

  1. Assessment - gathering all the necessary information about a child’s circumstances, needs and wishes. It may be necessary to conduct two separate stages of assessment - an initial short assessment and a second, more in-depth, and comprehensive assessment

  2. Case planning - developing a Care and Protection Plan that meets the identified needs and provides all the details of the alternative care, protection and other support services a child is being referred to

  3. Case implementation - delivery of the care and protection plan including direct support and referral to other services

  4. Monitoring and review - regular monitoring and review of the child’s circumstances and implementation of the care and protection plan, and making any necessary changes until eventually a case is closed

We will consider how to fulfill each of these steps of case management later in the course. But first let us consider who participates in case management and the child friendly manner in which it should be done.

The ‘See Also’ section below has links to other reading material that may be of interest to you.

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This article is from the free online course:

Caring for Children Moving Alone: Protecting Unaccompanied and Separated Children

University of Strathclyde