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Last edited: September 14, 2012

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Through case planning, shelters have an early opportunity to assist women to make a plan for taking positive steps forward.

The practice provides a collaborative approach to assessing women’s needs, identifying services and resources required to meet those needs, alongside determining specific goals and planning actions to assist them in the process. Case planning can complement advocacy efforts to empower and support women to access relevant services and resources, and can also contribute to coordination of services.

Case planning is designed to help determine the preferred course of action in addressing women’s needs and to connect them with appropriate justice, housing, health, social welfare and other services. The case plan is a tool to empower and support women to address the often multiple resource and service needs that result from their experiences with violence, and where relevant, leaving the abuse. Case plans can be used to empower women by enabling them to see and pursue opportunities that help them to achieve their goals. The process of reviewing progress on case plans with a shelter worker can also help women to see the progress they have made and modify the plan to reflect changing needs.

While there are somewhat different approaches to case planning, it is generally a collaborative process between the woman and the shelter worker that involves:

  • Assessing the woman’s current situation, needs and goals.
  • Exploring available options and determining the services and resources that will be accessed to assist the woman to meet these needs and to achieve her desired goals.
  • Identifying the benefits, alternatives, and consequences of the various service and resource options.
  • Documenting the options through an individualized case plan.
  • Assisting the woman to implement the plan, including advocating for access to resources and services as appropriate (British Columbia Housing, 2010).

Case planning should adhere to the guiding principles of shelter services, specifically:

  • Reflecting an understanding of the woman’s individual situation, needs and goals.
  • Focusing on the individual woman’s strengths and skills.
  • Employing a team-based approach that coordinates and integrates service providers involved in supporting/assisting the woman.
  • Engaging safe members of the woman’s social support network, where appropriate.
  • Promoting the woman’s overall safety, health and well-being and capacity for self-care.
  • Building respectful and collaborative relationships.
  • Promoting accountability to the woman.
  • Being informed by ethical principles.
  • Advocating for the needs of the woman (British Columbia Housing, 2010).