Social Welfare Policy Session 1 - University of Michigan

Social Welfare Policy Session 1 - University of Michigan

Policy Practice: Social Welfare Policy Session 1 Michael A. Dover Policy Practice This is a policy practice course. The first course in the social welfare policy sequence, which focuses upon social work and social welfare history, the nature of poverty, and the impact of oppression, dehumanization and exploitation and the struggles

against them on the nature of the social welfare system. It was not a policy practice course except to the extent students learned the values and ethics of social work advocacy and may have written an initial advocacy letter. Policy Practice Unlike the first course in this sequence, this is a policy practice course. As the official course description states, By the end of the course,

students who have completed this course will be able to demonstrate how they have integrated the values, knowledge and skills which they acquired in order to ensure that their view of themselves as professional social workers has a policy practice component. Policy Practice Among the related foundation competencies of the Council on Social Work Education are:

PC 2.1.1 Identify as a professional social worker and conduct oneself accordingly, for example: advocate for access to human services and resources; PC 2.1.5 Advance human rights and social and economic justice, for example. Policy Practice But what is policy practice? The foundation competency most relevant is #8:

PC 2.1.8 Engage in policy practice to advance social and economic well-being and to deliver effective social work services. For example: identify policy issues arising from practice and community settings; analyze, formulate, and advocate for policies that advance social well-being; and, collaborate with colleagues and clients for effective policy action.

Policy Practice Policy practice is a form of social work practice which is oriented towards intervening at the level of the service delivery organizational or governmental level in order to improve the laws, regulations and organizational policies which affect social welfare policy and social work practice. At least that is how I define it.

Policy Practice The person who claims to have invented the concept is Bruce S. Jansson, a professor at USC, who coined the term in 1980 in a hope that others, too, would reconceptualize social welfare policy as a multifaceted intervention that would help social workers actually change policies to advance such ethical principles as social justice. (p. xii in Becoming an Effective Policy Advocate: From Policy Practice to Social Justice, 5 th Ed., 2008).

Policy Practice He defines in on p. 14: We define policy practice as efforts to change policies in legislative, agency, and community settings, whether by establishing new policies, improving existing ones, or defeating the policy initiatives of other people. Policy Practice He distinguishes this from policy advocacy, which

he defines on p. 14 as: policy practice that aims to help relatively powerless groups.improve their resources and opportunities. Thus policy practice refers to efforts generally to change policies, and policy advocacy refers to efforts to help powerless groups improve their lot. Discussion: can we define help here? Is this a useful distinction?

Policy Practice I think it may be more valuable to define policy advocacy as one modality of policy practice as an advanced practice method which in the future may well have 2nd year concentrations as do many programs with other modalities of macro methods, including supervision, administration, planning, and community organizing. The major techniques of policy practice as a modality include: advocacy, formulation, analysis, collaboration, social protest,

etc.. Im not sure, does this make sense to you? Policy Practice But how, then, does policy practice fit into notions of generalist practice at the foundation level (BSW education and the first year of MSW)? I have developed a conceptualization of generalist practice which distinguishes it from advanced generalist practice and other advanced practice models:

Policy Practice Here, however, the organization and the community are the highest levels of intervention. While according to the definition of Jansson the organization community are levels of policy practice, there are clearly other higher levels. Also, as part and parcel of ones work as a social work practitioner, one engages in advocacy on behalf of client systems.

Policy Practice In fact, the best definition of advocacy is one which bounds, or restricts, the concept of advocacy as something one does on behalf of an identified client system. Robert L. Schneider and Lori Lester in Social Work Advocacy: A New Framework for Action (2001), define advocacy in this way (p.65): Social work advocacy is the exclusive and mutual representation of a client(s) or a cause in a forum,

attempting to systematically influence decisions in an unjust or unresponsive system. Policy Practice Social work advocacy is the exclusive and mutual representation of a client(s) or a cause in a forum, attempting to systematically influence decisions in an unjust or unresponsive system. Not they say or a cause. It think this is mistaken. You cant represent a cause, only a client, unless your client

and you make a cause out of a case or a social problem of concern to your client. Policy Practice Social work advocacy is an effort as part of the representation of a client system (individual, family, group, organization or community) to influence decisions or policies which are unjust or unresponsive. (Dover, with acknowledgement of Schneider and Lester.)

So it is useful to distinguish social work advocacy, which is a form of policy practice as a modality but is also a technique used in all forms of social work practice. Policy Practice To repeat, social work advocacy is a technique of policy practice and it also is a technique of generalist practice, advanced practice methods, etc. Policy practice itself, however, like research,

is not unique to social work. I see no value in trying to define policy practice as a social work method itself. Rather, like research, it is a modality which social workers use to inform, guide and extend their practice. Practice Decisions In other words, among the many practice decisions one may make as a social worker, one may decide to engage in research or policy practice, or one

may even be hired to do work such as research or policy practice (advocacy, formulation, analysis, collaboration, etc..) Practice Decisions What is a practice decision? Discussion. Practice Decisions Definition: A practice decision is something you

say or decide not to say, do or decide not to do together with a client system. (Dover) Practice Decisions What are the factors that influence a practice decision? Discussion Practice Decisions What about organizational and policy related

factors? Discussion Practice Decisions Quote: Every little practice decision is affected by the organizational context. (Miller) Discussion: Organizational contest Policy context Impact even the most minute present moment

between worker and client system

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