August 12, 2008
Social Work SW 3930 Social Welfare Policy
AssignmentsSW3930- Social Welfare Policy
The purpose of the legislative paper is to trace the development of a social welfare policy introduced in the current Georgia legislative session. The process involves selecting a bill that is being introduced in the Georgia General Assembly. Selected topics are dependent upon which bills are introduced during the session, but may include issues involving child welfare, community development, public assistance, mental health services, disability services, civil rights or specific public services/benefits that have a direct impact on vulnerable populations.
Major features of the paper will support students’ ability to develop critical thinking and writing skills through direct application of the course content. Students will interview key persons invested in the development and implementation of the legislative bill. Generally, regardless of the immediate focus of the bill, every bill will have some impact on a community. As such, each paper must consider the effect of the selected bill on the community environment. Pieces of this information can be obtained from speaking with legislator(s), the legislators’ aids agency representatives, or community representatives (e.g., recipients of service provisions, administrators of agencies providing services, advocacy groups.) Each student must seek the opinions of those with various viewpoints on the issue covered in the selected bill and discuss in the paper which groups and individuals are supportive or non- supportive of the bill, and the bases for their positions.
As a CTW assignment, students may work in small groups (2-3 students) to study a particular bill, but each student must compose independent papers analyzing the issue and proposed solution. The paper will be written in 5 sections throughout the semester, giving students the opportunity to receive feedback from the instructor before the final paper submission at the end of the semester. The instructor will provide feedback on students’ work based on content requirements for each section. For each section, students will submit a draft of their work on uLearn. They will have an opportunity to revise their work based on the instructor’s comments. The dates that each section is due are presented in the syllabus. Students will be evaluated on their ability to provide a thorough description of the issue, synthesize multiple points of view on the social problem and its proposed solutions, and present a rational position either supporting or opposing the legislative bill.
THE FINAL PAPER MUST FOLLOW THE OUTLINE BELOW
Section 1. PROBLEM DESCRIPTION
The introduction to the paper describes the issue being addressed in the bill. You should give some background research on the indicators (social, economic or political) that describe the problem, including factors that suggest the severity of the problem and the effects of the problem on Georgia or isolated communities within the state. Is the problem present in every community in Georgia? If not, where is it located? Why is the problem not manifested in some communities?
Section 2. PROBLEM DEFINITION
How did the sponsor of the bill define the problem; do other interested parties define the problem differently or the same? What social values are reflected in the definition of the problem? Are there conflicting definitions of the problem between the sponsors of the bill and other invested groups?
Section 3. PROBLEM SOLUTION
What solution(s) does the bill proposed to resolve the problem? What method or approach is proposed to address the problem? What specific services or benefits will come from the proposed solution? Are there any eligibility criteria for receiving benefits/services? What groups will receive services/benefits from the proposed solution, and what groups will be excluded from receiving services/benefits, and why? Is there consensus or conflict among various interested parties on what the bill proposes as a solution? What is the ultimate outcome (intended consequences) to result from the proposed solution to the problem? If the proposed solution does not eradicate the problem, then how is the bill a viable solution?
If the bill is an amendment or modification to an existing law, cite the law that will be changed and a brief comparison as to what sections of the current law will be changed.
To support your work, the following persons must be interviewed for your paper:
a. One or more sponsors of the bill. (Generally, the first name on the bill is the originator of the bill. He/she will have the most knowledge about the problem and the solution proposed in the bill);
a. Your personal state legislators (Senator and Representative) to gain their perception on
the problem/issue being addressed by the bill and the proposed solution expressed in the bill;
b. Two community representatives who would be affected by the bill (e.g., front line social workers, agency representative, a member of an advocacy/lobbying group, recipients of services or community residents who will be directly impacted by the bill).
IMPLEMENTATION AND BUDGETING
How is the service/benefit to be financed? Is this bill a funding priority for the legislature or Governor; are other bills/current programs competing for the same public dollars? What agency will have responsibility for implementing the proposed solution (e.g., what governmental agency will execute the bill)? Is the bill a priority for the administrative agency, why or why not? Are requested monetary resources adequate to fulfill the objectives expressed in the bill?
Section 4. POLICY PROCESS
Describe the process the bill went through during the legislative session (e.g., which committee, sub-committee was it assigned, etc)? If there were any public hearings on the bill, what individuals/groups gave testimony in the hearings? What issues were raised during the hearings by those giving testimony and/or by the legislators? Were there any lobbyists working for/against the bill? Were similar bills introduced in both chambers to address the same problem? If so, what was the purpose of this tactic? If two bills addressing the same problem progressed through both chambers of the legislature, what differences did you discern regarding the bills’ process between the Senate and the House? Were there any amendments to the bill, if so, did they change the focus of the problem in any way? Was there consensus/conflict on the bill’s amendments? What input did the Governor have on the bill’s process through the legislature?
The above sections are the heart of the paper and careful attention should be given to it. Be analytical, not just descriptive.
Section 5. PERSONAL REFLECTIONS
Give your position on the bill. Discuss how this bill will/will not resolve the problem as defined by legislators and/or persons affected by the problem? Do you anticipate any unintended consequences if the bill becomes state law? What areas or sections of the bill would you recommend to modify in order to address any concerns, and what action steps would you implement to address those concerns. Similarly, what aspects of the bill are good for addressing the problem and should therefore be protected. Discuss any ethical dilemmas stemming from the bill you foresee as a social work practitioner. How will this bill enhance social justice for targeted individuals/groups? What insights did you gain from participating in the legislative process? Again, be analytical in your thinking, and not just descriptive.
RationaleThe School of Social Work has the goal of educating competent social work practitioners. Critical thinking and analysis are essential practice skills currently incorporated in the BSW curriculum. Of the 15 learning outcomes for the BSW program, 3 specifically refer to critical thinking: data analysis - students demonstrate critical thinking through the development of testable hypotheses and interpreting and analyzing data related to client and system problems; plan of action - students demonstrate critical thinking skills through the gathering of client information and formulating, in collaboration with the client, a plan of action for problem resolution; and experiential learning - students demonstrate critical thinking skills through a personal examination of the experiential learning in field education.
The CTW-designated course will provide one more definitive approach to supporting students' ability to communicate, both orally and in writing, from a critical thinking perspective. Assignments will allow students to develop standard critical thinking skills (e.g., relevance, logic, significance, and precision). Using the Foundation For Critical Thinking as a resource, the assignments for CTW-designated courses will allow students to demonstrate their ability to:
Raise important questions and issues, and articulate them concisely and precisely;
Gather and assess relevant information, and show the ability to critically interpret it effectively;
Using relevant criteria and standards, develop well-reasoned conclusions and solutions to issues;
Maintain an open mind when considering alternative perspectives/ideas, assessing and evaluating assumptions, implications and practical consequences; and
Communicate effectively with others in articulating complex situations/issues and their possible solutions/responses.
[Adapted from Paul, R. & Elder, L (2005).The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking – Concepts & Tools (4th ed). CA: Foundation For Critical Thinking]
In the context of social policy, students will demonstrate critical thinking in analyzing social problems that require a legislative response, clarifying various points of view regarding the purpose, values , and potential effects among proposed policy alternatives, assessing program implementation, as well as the implications and consequences.
It is expected that students will apply their critical thinking skills in all courses in the BSW curriculum in accordance with the overall learning outcomes for the undergraduate program, and not just CTW-designated courses.