Vida Gudžinskienė Auksė Šinkevičė


This article analyses the case manager’s responsibility and challenges in ensuring the child’s rights, based on case managers’ experience. In Lithuania, the children’s rights protection system underwent a period of strong changes. Fundamental changes implemented in child rights protection field were related to recorded cases of violence. According to Department of Statistics data, following the implementation of the law amending the Basic Law on the Protection of Children’s Rights No. I-1234, which entered into force on 1 July 2018, in 2019 the number of recorded cases of violence against children increased by 674 compared to 2018 data (in 2018, 4,448 cases of violence were recorded; in 2019, 5,122). In 2020, the number of cases of violence against children decreased as 2,511 cases were recorded; and in 2021, number of cases remained similar at 2,611. Significant changes in indicators of violence against children can be associated with the application of the case management method in our country, when case management functions were entrusted to a case manager. The application of the case management method in the child welfare field in our country has become particularly relevant and led to significant changes. The complex provision of services for the child and family, the assessment of individual family needs, and close cooperation with specialists became the goals of the case management process.

Research object: the case manager’s responsibility and challenges in ensuring a child’s rights. The research aim is to reveal the case manager’s responsibility and challenges in ensuring a child’s rights, based on case managers’ experience. The main research questions are: What is the case manager’s responsibility in ensuring a child’s rights? What challenges does the case manager face when collaborating with other specialists? Research methods included: analysis of scientific literature and legal acts, the generalization method, qualitative research, and the semi-structured interview method used to collect research data. The research participant sample was formed by purposive sampling using the criterion sampling method, where research elements are selected according to established criteria. Research participants were selected according to the following criteria: 1) case managers who work in X institutions and provide case management services, together with social workers organise support process for social risk families; 2) research participants’ experience in the case management field is at least 2 years; 3) research participants work together with social workers.

In 2022, a pilot study was conducted and involved one participant. Research was conducted in November–December 2022. In total, 6 case managers who met all required criteria participated in the research. Research data were processed using qualitative content analysis. Research data were analysed by distinguishing categories and subcategories and assigning supporting statements, and while interpreting and analysing research findings they were associated with the scientific insights of other authors.

Research ethics were ensured as, when organising qualitative research, much attention was paid to research participants’ voluntary participation. All participants participated in the research voluntarily. Each research participant was free to refuse to participate in an interview or withdraw from the research at any time. Participants were informed about the research aims, compliance with ethical research principles, confidentiality, and anonymity. When organising qualitative research interviews, efforts were made to create a safe, calm environment where the subject could communicate openly and honestly. Anonymity is preserved by coding each research participant’s responses. Case managers’ responses are coded with the letters AV. During the research, the principle of tolerance was also observed. Each participant was respected in relation to their expressed opinion and position on certain issues, their experiences and emotional struggles were accepted, and prejudices or biases were avoided.

Empirical research showed that the case manager’s main responsibility is: individual casework, cooperation with the social worker and other specialists, and the organisation of social services for the family. In individual work with the case, the case manager’s first responsibility, when acting alone, is to familiarize themselves with the case, analyse it, and identify problems based on documents. The case manager’s second responsibility is cooperation with the social worker and other specialists. This responsibility is perceived as establishing contact with the client, and the case manager’s further actions are regulated by legal acts as the evaluation of support for the child and/or the family is implemented, a support plan is drawn up and implemented, and case management meetings are organised. Essential emphasis when implementing this responsibility is placed on the case manager’s monitoring of the family during the entire support process and efforts to involve the client’s close environment in the process of support. The case manager’s coordinating function is inevitable, because they become responsible for coordinating the activities of specialists, institutions and social workers involved in the support process, as well as for interacting with the social worker. The case manager’s third responsibility is the organisation of social services for the family. Here, emphasis is on the coordination of the case manager’s social skills development, support and (or) restoration services provided to families, and the organisation of preventive services. In implementing this responsibility, the case manager’s cooperation function is important, because they become responsible for cooperation with educational, medical, and other institutions and their engagement in the process of helping the child and the family.

It was revealed that the case manager, while providing services to the family, faces three fundamental difficulties related to: 1) social risk families, 2) the organization and coordination of case management process, and 3) their own psychological well-being. Difficulties related to social risk families for the case manager are usually caused by unmotivated clients who do not recognise their problems and refuse the support offered. Difficulties related to the organisation and coordination of the case management process are often influenced by a lack of information sharing and agreement on the services provided between the specialists involved in the support process, where there is lack of inter-institutional cooperation. Difficulties in the organisation and coordination of the case management process are also caused by a lack of preventive services and limited opportunities for clients to access existing services due to their remote places of residence. This situation is further complicated by the inadequate expectations of the case manager and the lax attitudes of other institutions involved in the family assistance process. Attention should be paid to the case manager’s difficulties related to their own psychological well-being, which is influenced by uncertainty at work, while the lack of support from other team members only strengthens this issue. It is not uncommon for case managers to feel stress caused by a stressful atmosphere at work and the heavy responsibilities that fall on them.


Social Work