Week 1: Social Work in the Policy Arena
Policies designed to enhance peoples’ welfare or well-being are known as social policies. These policies are concerned with many aspects of social welfare, including health, housing, education, income, and nutrition, to name but a few. Social policies have also been formulated to meet the needs of groups of people such as needy children, people with disabilities, low-income families, and elderly people.
—Midgley & Livermore, 2008, pp. x–xi
From Midgley’s synopsis on social policy, it is clear that as a professional social worker and an advocate of social change, you will be working closely with populations and groups of people that will need your talent and dedication to affect a positive change in the quality of life for these people. Social Policy: Advocacy and Analysis will prepare you for the role of social worker in the policy arena.
In Week 1, you examine ethical reasons and obligations for engaging in social work policy practice, and you explore historical influences on social action in contemporary practice. You also introduce yourself to your colleagues with an introductory video that you will upload in this first week.
- Analyze ethical reasons social workers engage in policy practice
- Analyze historical influences on social action in current practice
Jansson, B. S. (2018). Becoming an effective policy advocate: From policy practice to social justice. (8th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning Series.
Chapter 1, “Joining a Tradition of Social Reform” (pp. 3–31)
Community Toolbox. (2016). Chapter 5 Section 1: Strategies for community change and improvement: An overview. Retrieved from http://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/assessment/promotion-strategies/overview/main
Discussion 1: Video Introduction
A large part of social work involves building relationships. To be effective, you must build relationships with clients, colleagues, and community and organizational representatives. Being able to share appropriate amounts of personal information is the first step in building those relationships as you seek to recognize common goals with these individuals. Feeling comfortable with sharing an appropriate amount of personal information requires practice and is an ongoing process as you encounter new people. What would you like others to know about you as an individual who is a social worker? How would you like others to perceive you? The relationships you build rely on those perceptions as much as they rely on what you say. There is no better time than now to plan or revisit your approach to building these relationships.
For this ungraded, but required, Discussion, record a 2-3 minute video introducing yourself to your colleagues. Your video should include and address these items:
- Introduce yourself (your name, your geographic location, and an interesting, fun fact about yourself related to hobbies, personal interests or experiences)
- What does being an advocate mean to you?
- Describe a policy that has impacted your life
Discussion 2: Historical Divides and Ethical ObligatiWork
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) specifies the ethics and values of the profession in their Code of Ethics. Section 6.04 of the Code of Ethics (1999) states:
Social workers should engage in social and political action that seeks to ensure that all people have equal access to the resources, employment, services, and opportunities they require to meet their basic human needs and to develop fully. Social workers should be aware of the impact of the political arena on practice and should advocate for changes in policy and legislation to improve social conditions in order to meet basic human needs and promote social justice.(Preamble, p. 8)
With the requirement of social and political action among social workers, there is little political activity among clinical social workers. Why? What barriers exist that prevent social workers from fulfilling this ethical obligation?
What does it mean to be a macro social worker? A micro social worker? Do these differentiations have any real meaning? If not, why is this language used when referring to the social work profession?
In this Discussion, you will look at the obligation of social workers to engage in political action in their practice and discuss why there appear to be different perceptions of the responsibility for political action among social work professionals.
By Day 4
Post an analysis of historical divides (such as the schism between Jane Addams and Mary Richmond) and historical influences on current social work practice with respect to policy advocacy and action. Do such schisms exist in contemporary social work? If you think these divides exist, how do they prevent social workers from fulfilling their ethical obligation(s)? Are they important differentiations?
By Day 6
Respond to a colleague with a suggestion about how to address these schisms, both historical situations and current but yet unidentified ones. Does social action need to be separate from social work practice?
Tonya Adams RE: Discussion 2 – Week 1COLLAPSE
Post an analysis of historical divides (such as the schism between Jane Addams and Mary Richmond) and historical influences on current social work practice with respect to policy advocacy and action.
In the year of 1889 Jane Addams were the co-founder of social work for Hull House in the United States. Although, Jane Addams came from a background of a privilege group, she was a global peace activist, advocate, and community organizer.Her social and political actions were to improve the conditions for socially and economically disadvantaged groups such as the poor, immigrants, African Americans, and women. Jane Addams, with the assistance of volunteers, recruited and organized activities that provided an array of vital services to thousands of people each week: they established a kindergarten and day-care for working mothers; provided job training; English language, cooking, and acculturation classes for immigrants; established a job-placement bureau, community center, gymnasium, and art gallery through Hull House that improved the conditions of people in society. She also played a role in changing society ailments through social reform. Jane Addams worked within both governmental and nongovernmental systems, and her presence also changed these systems stated by Anders, & da Silveira Nunes Dinis, (2015).
In contrast Mary Richmond played an influential role in the development of the field of social work. Her purpose was to improve the public’s understanding of the profession in hopes to advance its image in a positive way (Murdach, 2011). According to Hill, Ferguson, & Erickson ( 2010), Richmond is recognized as the “direct social work practitioner.” In historical efforts as it pertains to both social change and human services, reform is regarded as the sphere of social work (Jacobson, 2001). She was a practitioner, agency administrator, a social work author, and a pioneer whose career began at the Charity Organization Society (Murdach, 2011). These traits formed the bedrock of her successful career as a social worker, a career that hitherto remained underrated. Whereas she transformed into a social works behemoth during her peak years, Richmond did not delve into social work immediately after her formative years. She focused on educational methodologies for client adjustment which lead her career to other places, which helped her morph into the social works cornerstone that she became. She strongly stressed the view of the social worker as a teacher (Murdach, 2011).
Do such schisms exist in contemporary social work
The social worker’s mission includes all levels, yet, the historical divide regarding the different levels of micro, mezzo, and macro practice still exists. Contemporary social issues (also social problem, social evil, and social conflict) refers to any undesirable condition that is opposed either by the whole society or by a section of the society. According to studies, while social work continues to espouse a mission of social justice and social action (NASW, 1996), the profession no longer prioritizes those strategies most likely to achieve these goals. Recent social policy efforts often are aimed more at establishing or protecting roles for social workers than at promoting transformations in the way human services are delivered (personal communications with H. Graber, eastern coordinator, Missouri Association for Social Welfare and adjunct professor, Webster University, St. Louis, August 1997; M. Reisch, professor of social work, School of Social Work, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, April 1997).