Case Manager / Care Coordinator

A Case Manager/Care Coordinator ensures that a client is engaged with necessary clinical and/or wrap-around services in the community, helps transitions happen smoothly, and ensures that the work of multiple caregivers is coordinated.

Activities, Skills and Knowledge

A Case Manager/Care Coordinator works directly with people in addiction treatment or recovery. This work may also involve families and friends of the client. A Case Manager/Care Coordinator also works with service providers, to engage resources and achieve coordination of care for a client.

Case Managers/Care Coordinators do not focus on clinical work, but they must still be capable of responding in professional, ethical ways, including cultural responsiveness and trauma-informed best practices.

The Case Manager/Care Coordinator must be able to

  • Work with the client to create a service or recovery plan
  • Match the needs with available community services
  • Assist people to access services
  • Use evidence-based or best practices
  • Live up to professional and ethical responsibilities
  • Complete necessary administrative tasks
  • Advocate for the client with a variety of service providers
For more details on the skills, knowledge and activities of a Case Manager and Care Coordinator, download SAMHSA's Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) #27: Comprehensive Case Management for Substance Abuse Treatment.

Specific settings may define the roles of Case Managers and Care Coordinators in slightly different ways, but the core functions are the similar.

  • For example, a Care Coordinator is a key role in Patient Centered Medical Homes: Care Coordinators may work broadly with primary care patients needing addiction services, linkages to community resources, transportation, dietary services and services connected with other chronic health problems.
  • Similarly, a Case Manager might assist a client who is in addiction treatment to access other needed care near where they live, or arrange transportation or child care which makes it possible for the person to attend treatment.
  • In some jobs, case management is seen as an activity more narrowly focused on coordinating services within a health organization, while care coordination involves outside services; in other jobs, care coordination is perceived to be a narrow activity within the sphere of case management.

If you are considering a job with either title, read the description carefully and ask questions about the potential responsibilities.

Educational Requirements and Opportunities

A Case Manager may have a Bachelors or Masters degree in a Human Services field, such as social work.

See Case Manager/Care Coordinator Educational Opportunities for options.

Licensure/Certification Requirements

Case Managers/Care Coordinators are not specifically licensed in Massachusetts. Massachusetts Licenses three (3) levels of Addictions Counselors (click here for details), who also may do care coordination.

Opportunities for Advancement

With the advent of health care reform, and the integration of behavioral and physical health care, more care coordination will be required. Opportunities should continue to grow, particularly in the addictions field.

Case Managers may grow to:

  • Supervise other case managers
  • Become administrators
  • Become counselors