TPC Introduces Case Manager Career Ladder Program

Posted: Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Providence Center (TPC) recently rolled out its case manager career ladder, a tiered advancement framework for case managers that would like to further their careers. The program pairs a structured, on-the-job learning curriculum with required courses to promote professional and clinical growth.  

The project is part of a Care New England workforce development initiative in partnership with Apprenticeship RI to promote professional practice and competency as well as improve recruitment and retention. TPC and Anchor Recovery began a similar advancement initiative last year designed to help Anchor employees become licensed substance use treatment providers.

A career development path provides employees with an ongoing mechanism to enhance their skills and knowledge that can lead to mastery of their current jobs, with eventual promotions and transfers to new or different positions within the organization. Implementing career ladders may also have a direct impact on the entire organization by improving morale, career satisfaction, motivation, productivity, and responsiveness in meeting departmental and organizational objectives.

Though it’s often the starting point to a career in human services, case management is far from simple. Case managers serve as the “front line” with clients, helping them find the services they need, create reasonable goals for their recovery, coordinate with other health and human service providers, and manage their finances, all while keeping tabs on the client’s progress.  

Vickie Walters, Care New England’s Director of Workforce Development, has been working to develop this program for over a year with input from current TPC case managers. “Case managers are the unsung heroes of behavioral health, and we wanted to provide them with something tangible to understand how they can meet expectations and be competent in their role,” said Walters. “This effort will help us improve the quality of client care, because it’s a way to evaluate competencies and make sure staff have adequate knowledge and tools to provide high quality care.” 

The program is divided into three levels, each of which require between 500-2000 training hours and include a salary increase upon completion. The levels require a number of education courses and mastery of specific competencies, which include:

  • Understanding of TPC Programs and their benefits to the clients
  • Ability to navigate community service organizations
  • Effective management of crisis situations and how to respond
  • Ability to effectively communicate with clients, their families, and care team(s)
  • Completion of higher level of case manager responsibilities, including subspecialty and leadership activities

The program takes on average two to three years to complete, and successful candidates will earn the title of case manager specialist. They can then choose to remain a case manager specialist or take the next step and become a manager or master’s level clinician with a professional licensure such as Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) or Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).

TPC associate director Luis Ferreira built a successful career from his start as a case manager. Ferreira, who now oversees TPC’s operations at Prairie Ave in Providence as well as multiple Integrated Health Home Teams, started as a case manager in TPC’s Child and Family division in 1995, and was eventually promoted to lead case manager.

In 2008, he decided to go back to school. He chose a weekend-based program at Boston University, and graduated with a Master’s in Social Work 2011. After becoming a clinician in Multi Systemic Therapy (MST) Program, he achieved Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) certifications while working full-time.

According to Ferreira, working as a case manager is effective training for future leadership positions. “The job takes a lot of initiative, and the ability to make sound decisions,” said Ferreira. “The direct contact with people and their needs teaches you a lot about social economics, family issues, and other elements that contribute to a client’s situation.”

Ferreira will encourage his staff to apply for this initiative. “I was able to take advantage of tuition reimbursement, and was fortunate to have supportive supervisors that supported my educational goals, but this program would have made it easier,” said Ferreira. “I think case managers know there’s a possibility of advancement, but I believe having that extra level of support and supervision will help motivate them to reach higher.” said Ferreira.

Currently, 108 case managers are enrolled in the program. If you’re interested in a case management position at TPC, please visit Care New England’s employment page and click The Providence Center.