A group of colleagues in a conference

How to Become a Certified Advanced Social Work Case Manager

A social work case manager oversees the work that caseworkers and social workers do and helps them manage their caseloads. The caseworker typically coordinates his or her clients’ care among healthcare providers, while the social worker supports his or her clients and refers them to social service agencies to make sure their basic needs are met. Caseworkers and social workers are required to have education, on-the-job training and state licensing before they are allowed to take on their own caseloads, and these requirements vary from state to state.

C-ASWCM Certification Process

A case management certification indicates a professional commitment to the National Association of Social Work (NASW) Code of Ethics, the NASW Standards for Social Work Case Management, and the NASW Standards for Continuing Professional Education. These standards of excellence signify an allegiance with fellow distinguished professionals who share the same accomplishments. Generally speaking, becoming certified merits greater access to case manager jobs and leadership positions within social service organizations.

Individuals who have a Master of Social Work can apply for Certified Advanced Social Work Case Manager (C-ASWCM) through the NASW when they’ve met these requirements:

  • Twenty contact hours of applicable continuing education
  • At least two years of documented (or the equivalent of 3,000 hours) of paid, supervised, post-master of social work case management experience
  • A state master of social work-level license or an ASWB (Association of Social Work Boards) master of social work-level passing exam score.
  • Demonstrated adherence to both the NASW Code of Ethics and the NASW Standards for Continuing Professional Education.

The goal is to ensure that social work case managers are competent and knowledgeable in their ability to safely support and protect the mental, physical, and social well-being of clients as well as the general public.

The Road to Social Worker Certification

People who choose social work as a career do so typically for deeply personal reasons. Some refer to it as a “calling.” They have a passion for helping people, and they are willing to go into difficult and uncomfortable situations because they want to make the world a better place. Some social workers are motivated because of their own experiences, while others do it because they want to stand up for human rights.

As they gain experience on the job, social workers can move into management positions, with the required experience, education, and certifications. They can oversee other social workers and case managers and provide coaching and mentoring to new social workers as they enter the field. Some social workers might feel inspired to shift from client services into advocacy and public policy, because they feel their education and experience in the field will allows them to help people on a larger scale.

The C-ASWCM designation adds a level of credibility to social workers’ resumes, which helps them advance their careers as well as advocate for change on behalf of others.

C-ASWCM Roles & Responsibilities

A case manager has several important responsibilities, which include addressing their clients’ biopsychosocial states of wellbeing. Biopsychosocial refers to the consideration of biological, psychological, and social factors, as opposed to exclusively focusing on one single factor.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the specific roles and responsibilities of an advanced social work case manager encompass many areas:

  • An engaging demeanor with clients (primarily) as well as peers
  • Managerial capabilities for coordinating and supervising staff as well as for creating and implementing organizational budgets
  • Evaluative skills in terms of determining an individual’s needs, weaknesses, and strengths on a biopsychosocial, social, and physical (such as financial) scale
  • The ability to plan for action such as intervention, treatment or rehabilitation, support, and crisis prevention
  • The ability to ensure services are being facilitated appropriately and provide additional support during a crisis
  • The determination to be a client advocate and to ethically promote systematic improvement
  • Skills necessary for re-evaluating and intervention, which includes monitoring, collecting and analyzing data, and determining effectiveness and appropriateness of an intervention
  • The professionalism necessary for disengaging with a client at the time the intervention concludes, be it by means of successful program completion and subsequent patient release or by transfer or termination of the intervention

Through each step of the process, advocacy is central to case managers; above all, they are champions of their clients and patients.

Advanced Social Work Case Manager Jobs

Recent data published by the BLS indicates that the majority of social work case managers worked within organizations serving individuals and families (23%). State and local government (19%) and organizations (religious, civic, professional, etc.) (15%) were the second and third highest employers, respectively.

Under the scope of these employers, C-ASWCMs can work in a variety of social work career settings including:

  • Schools and school boards
  • Hospitals and hospital networks
  • Prisons
  • Retirement homes and communities
  • Welfare agencies
  • Mental health care facilities
  • Religious organizations
  • Private clinics

In these and other agencies, C-ASWCMs have to be able to wear multiple hats and perform various jobs such as:

  • Case manager
  • Counselor
  • Professional coach
  • Social worker
  • Researcher

While social workers are needed everywhere, they historically are most gainfully employed in urban areas and in larger cities, particularly in areas where there are high concentrations of socioeconomically, culturally, educationally, and professionally diverse and underrepresented groups.

By earning a master of social work, and by undergoing the requisite steps to becoming certified, a case manager can elevate his or her experience and expertise and give themselves the knowledge base and skills set for coordinating and managing all aspects of social work case manager’s job. The advantages of becoming a certified advanced social work case manager are innumerable and include extrinsic benefits such as a stable, competitive income and invaluable intrinsic benefits such as the ability to make a difference in someone’s life and knowing that positive changes have been made through careful planning and caring.