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Social Work 3210 Social Issues Week 1 Notes

by: Kristyle L.

Social Work 3210 Social Issues Week 1 Notes Soc Wk 3210

Marketplace > University of Missouri - St. Louis > Social Work > Soc Wk 3210 > Social Work 3210 Social Issues Week 1 Notes
Kristyle L.
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About this Document

Week 1 Course notes
Social Issues
Courtney McDermott
Class Notes
Social Work, social policy, social justice, Social Welfare




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This 7 page Class Notes was uploaded by Kristyle L. on Saturday January 9, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Soc Wk 3210 at University of Missouri - St. Louis taught by Courtney McDermott in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 49 views. For similar materials see Social Issues in Social Work at University of Missouri - St. Louis.

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Date Created: 01/09/16
Social Work 3210 Chapter 1  Social Work and Social Policy: A Strengths Perspective Social Policies are the laws, rules, and regulations that govern the benefits and services provided by governmental and private organizations to assist people in meeting their needs. (Needs are a gap between an existing condition and some societal standard or required  condition) Social justice refers to the equitable distribution of societal resources to all people as well as  equity and fairness in the social, economic, and political spheres. Strengths perspective is a philosophical approach to social work positing that the goals,  strengths, and resources of people and their environment should be the central focus of the  helping process rather than their problems and pathologies.  Social problems are concerns about the quality of life of large groups of people that are either  held as a broad consensus among a population and/or voiced by social and economic elites. Social Work and Social Policy Social Welfare refers to a nations system of programs, benefits, and services that help people  meet the social, economic, educational, and health needs that are fundamental to the maintenance of society.  Client group (service users) refer to the population that is the primary focus of a social policy or program. Combining injustice through policy reform is our ethical obligation. Social programs are a specified set of activities that are designed to solve social problems  and/or meet basic human needs. Policy practice encompasses professional efforts to influence the development, enactment,  implementation, modification, or assessment of social policies, primarily to ensure social justice  and equal access to basic social goods. Engage in policy practice to enable self to help craft policies that support clients. Social Work Values Integral to the Strengths Approach to Policy Practice Two fundamental values that can guide our efforts to shape more effective policy are self  determination and social justice. Self determination refers to peoples control of their own destiny. (Essential to strengths  perspective) *Respect for diversity is central to social work practice *Campaign for societal action on behalf of the disadvantaged populations Social workers responsibility for Policy Practice We have the ability to shape social policies at the agency or governmental level. Make the  connection between individuals needs and policy issues that impact their ability to meet their  need; then work to change those policies moving from, case > cause. Advocacy requires an array of skills. *Understanding how to help clients be involved in the policy development process *Providing research and technical information *Understanding policy makes biases, having insights into all perspectives on the issues *Presenting issues in ways that can be embraced by policy makers Connecting Social Policy to Personal Experience/ Social Work and the Strengths Perspective Try to connect social policy to your personal life. This approach examines the strengths, goals, and resources of individuals and their communities  as well as the barriers to meeting needs that exist in the broader environment in which social  problems develops. Ex. When examining homelessness from a strengths perspective begin by looking carefully at the variety of people who are homeless and exploring their strengths and goals, as well as  community resources. *Look at* Current economic conditions, availability of affordable housing, possibility of mental  health problems among homeless populations, availability of government programs to assist  people who have little to no financial resources to due to low wages and illness. Policy Practice Infused with the Strengths Perspective Policy development could reflect a strengths based approach. Initial stage—defining needs,  strengths, goals, problems involving clients in the policy development process, convincing  decision makers to allocate recourses to meet clients needs. Policy development changes when infused with the strengths perspective—more likely to  produce a more effective policy. Reshaping Human Needs and Social Problems This allows us to define social problems in terms of human and environmental deficits—but in  terms of barriers that disadvantaged groups try to satisfy these basic needs such as food, shelter  and positive community participation. Expanding the Clients Role The role of social worker is to ensure that policy makers take clients perspectives into account, to act as a resource person, and to collaborate with clients and throughout the development process. Claims­Making In order for a successful claim that resources should be allocated to meet a recognized need.  Claims are often influenced by values and are intended to establish rights to resources. Social workers make social justice claims for people with disabilities based on their strong belief that these individuals have the same right as other citizens to access community services. ­Work to resolve conflict and consensus building. Involving clients help increase their power­ empowered. Principles of Strength Perspective Policy Practice Basic concepts and principles that strengths perspective is rooted in, the most important policy  focused strengths perspective principles are: *The strengths and goals of your clients are legitimate starting places in developing social  policy. Problems and deficits should not be given center stage. *Given that the definitions of social problems that typically guide policy and program  development are socially constructed, our clients’ perspectives concerning their problems, needs, strengths, and goals should be part of the social construction of need for policy development *Structural barriers that disadvantage our clients in meeting their needs and create unequal  opportunities should be emphasized when claims for the right to benefits and services are made. *The strengths perspective is premised on social work values of self­determination and social  justice. Claims for benefits and services that allow people to overcome these additional barriers  are made based on the right to equal access to resources and opportunities to meet needs and  reach goals for citizens, regardless of gender, race, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender  identity, or other characteristics that have been the basis for denying access. *Social policies and programs should build on individual and community strengths and resources and remove structural barriers that disadvantage the target group. *The role of the social worker is not that of the expert who helps shape policy for hapless  victims. Rather, it is that of the collaborator and resource person who helps gain attention for the  perspectives of the target group and supports clients in advocating for policies to improve their  lives. *Social policy goals and design should focus on access, choice, and opportunity that can help  empower the target group in meeting their needs and goals. *The target group should be involved in all phases of policy development. The process as well as the product, or outcome, of policy development will differ when clients are involved in all  phases of your work. *Evaluating the efficacy of social policy should include evaluation of outcomes for clients. Frameworks for Policy Development We must shift our perspective, attitude, and language to focus on possibility and opportunity and  the potential of the individual, who has strengths as well as needs. QUICK STUDY GUIDE 1­Comparison of the Problem­Centered and Strengths­Based  Approaches to Policy Development PROBLEM­CENTERED APPROACH STRENGTHS­BASED APPROACH Define problem. Define needs, goals, and barriers in  ­A situation is labeled a problem to be  partnership with clients. corrected. ­Identify basic needs and barriers to meeting  needs. ­Identify client goals. Analyze problem, causes, and consequences. Formulate policy alternatives in partnership  with clients. ­Identify ways that barriers to reaching goals  are currently overcome by clients (strengths)  and through programs (best practice). Focus  on solutions. Inform the public. Engage in claims­making. Claims­making is based on right to self­ determination and social justice. Develop policy goals. Identify opportunities and resources necessary for people to meet their goals in partnership  with clients. Formulate policy goals informed  by consumer collaboration. Legitimize policy goals by building  Legitimize policy goals by negotiating  consensus. consensus.  Develop and implement policy/program. Develop and implement policy/program in  partnership with clients. ­Program design informed by consumer  collaboration ­Implementation informed by consumer  involvement. Evaluate and assess policy/program  Evaluate outcomes in partnership with clients. effectiveness. ­Evaluation and assessment emphasizes client outcomes and client feedback to improve  policy. It is the social worker’s responsibility to ensure that policy reflects clients realities and more  policy makers need to understand these realities. Once the policy has been negotiated and formulated, the strengths perspective mandates that  clients be involved in implementing and evaluating the policy programs that are enacted.  Benefits and services, financing, and the service delivery system should be evaluated primarily  on how effectively they help clients achieve their goals. Identifying and Developing Your Policy Practice Abilities  Good place to start applying the strengths perspective is with yourself. Identify your own  strengths, resources, and areas of expertise, this may be able to help you identify your clients’  strengths. Get to know someone who is effectively engaged in policy practice. *Consider your interest area, find volunteer opportunities, advocacy groups etc *Observe what they do, ask questions Integrating a Strengths Perspective: Benefits and Cautions  A major goal of social work education is to foster critical thinking skills.  This will help you adopt a healthy skepticism concerning the advantages of integrating a  strengths perspective into your policy practice. Benefits of the Strengths Perspective This approach offers an antidote to victim blaming. Clients are not seen as problems. Problem  admiration is not what we do. This approach requires workers assertively look for strengths and  resources in their clients as well as the clients’ families and environment. This approach also provides a voice to populations whose views previously were ignored.  Listening to different groups of people and exploring the strengths in the context of unique life  experiences is appropriate across ethnic, cultural, and income groups. Once we move beyond the model of a professional who hears about deficits and lays out a  solution, they generally become energized to listen to ideas that emerge from client groups and  begin to uncover resources in the community. Benefits of using a strengths perspective are: *It moves us away from victim blaming *It reflects basic social work values *It provides fresh ideas *It involves consumers of services in policy making Cautions Regarding the Strengths Perspective Social workers and clients must find ways to present needs effectively so that sufficient resources are provided to build on strengths.  Victim blaming is the process of strengths based social policy which emphasizes clients roles in  informing, implementing, and evaluation policy; it can also be distorted to provide an excuse for  social work professionals, policy makers, and other stakeholders to ignore our collective  responsibilities to work together to solve social problems. Remember the strengths approach adds a useful perspective, but it is not the only conceptual tool that social workers need to be effective at policy practice. Empirical research on the effectiveness of social work practice based on the strengths  perspective is growing but still limited. Connecting Social Work Values to Policy Practice As long as clients are disadvantaged by policies and resulting programs that do not reflect social  work values, social workers must strive to mitigate those effects, to modify offensive policies,  and to craft effective policy at the agency and legislative levels. 


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