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The Social Work Profession’s Contributions to Social Policy Development and Practice

The Social Work Profession’s Contributions to Social Policy Development and Practice


so with that I’m going to turn it over
or Garfinkel who with his colleagues Jane well Vogel and Heidi Alan looked at
the status of the profession and scholarship around to Social Policy so
thank you mark thanks to all of you for coming after a long conference and I
hope that what we present will make your Wow so the paper that I’m doing is
social policy and Social Work in the 21st century and with two co-authors
Jane wall Fogle and Heidi Allen neither of whom are here but they have expertise
in areas that I don’t and made it very important contributions so our charge is
to assess the condition of social policy research in social work at the dawn of
the 21st century we also say a little bit about the state of the profession in
terms of influencing policy just focusing on the scholarship for a moment
it’s a daunting challenge to and Markin it at this and his comments to assess
the role of social policy research and social work because the field is so
broad including includes obviously poverty anti-poverty research tower
welfare health aging housing neighborhood and Community Development
anti-discrimination policy some would say still criminal justice policy of
they were not intimately involved in that any
more tax policy is relevant as well and gender policy so and I could go on
that’s a partial list so the question that we face the first question was what
do we talk about so our solution was to focus on only three areas and the
criteria for choosing the areas one that the areas be everyone would agree that
the areas we choose are central to Social Work a second and more pragmatic
was that we have some expertise in this area and that’s why we have three of us
I have expertise in the broad area of anti-poverty policy or generally social
economic well-being a chain waffle who has expertise in child welfare and Heidi
Allen expertise in health policy the method which I’ll come back to at the
end you should think of what we’re doing it’s a in some ways novel I hadn’t
thought of initially but what we do is focus on what we think are really
seminal contributions coming from people in social work and we so we focus on
just leading research in these three areas I’ll come back to that and say the
limits of that and to summarize the findings Social Work scholarship is
remarkably strong and I’m an optimist by nature but I think I hope to convince
you that that’s not just the reflection of my personality rather it’s a
reflection the evidence so I’m gonna begin with
anti-poverty policy or economic well-being or generally again the
vastness of the literature just in this area requires narrowing and we’ve
narrowed to four areas core poverty research child support asset development
and comparative research cross national comparative research with respect to
core party research I’m going to begin with overarching research on poverty and
here the first thing I thought about was the Institute for Research on poverty
has published I think it’s now four volumes on fighting poverty confronting
poverty understanding poverty there was a fourth but two of those three were
edited by Sheldon Danziger who was a member of the faculty at the University
of Wisconsin in Madison and these are my these were at the time they were
published must reads for people who took seriously scholarship we’re interested
in overall scholarship in poverty and here I’m gonna divert a little bit to
the state of the profession so again I think very impressive four of the 13
directors of the Institute for Research on poverty came from Social Work I’ve
the only profession that has a stronger representation economics same thing with
respect to there’s now a National Academy of Science Panel charged with
coming up with how do we reduce poverty child poverty by half in the next ten
years again four of the 15
National Academy of Science members are social work come from Social Work the again the only profession that has
stronger representation economics poverty measurement I’ll just talk about
two contributions there one is the as I think probably most of
you know that in 1995 the National Academy of Science recommended that we
adopt a new measure of poverty as opposed to the official measure lots of
weaknesses of the official measure I will focus on only one which is the
official measure doesn’t count the benefits from the programs that we have
actually expanded the most especially with respect to child poverty so food
stamps is not counted the Earned Income Tax Credit is not counted public housing
is not counted in the official measure finally in 2011 or 2012 the Census
Bureau published a supplementary measure of poverty the SPM and I’m gonna talk
about the OPM that’s the official measure of poverty they didn’t replace
the official measure it’s called supplementary measure D and
lots of differences I’m just focused on one it counts all these benefits cats
all these benefits and a group of us at Columbia University myself Jane wall
Fogle a student at the time Liana Fox and a research scientist Chris Weimer
and there are two or three others the co-authors what we did was to publish
take the SPM back in time historically so the Census Bureau only published data
for the teens I think they go back to 2011 but we took
it all the way back to 1967 and the difference in the reduction in poverty
is dramatic if you look at the official measure the trend in child poverty is
actually child poverty goes up a little from sixty-seven to the current period
if you use the SPM we reduce child poverty by more than forty percent
that’s a very different narrative the first narrative is we threw money at
problems that didn’t work the second narrative is that money was well spent
it was very effective in reducing poverty a second area I’d cousin and by
the way that was cited in the president’s annual economic report of
the president on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the declaration of
war on poverty there’s a chapter in that report of the president economic report
of the president that looks at a 50-year look back on the war on poverty and our
work is central to that material hardship social workers have made
seminal contributions on material hardship I remember when I first the the
concept was invented by said the measurement was first done by sandy
Jenks the first couple of times I saw and I had a student in class that I poo
pooed the measure and said well I’m skeptical about it I was that wrong
about that and a number of people from Social Work have published very
convincing papers of why this is a good measure five minutes I thought I had 30
minutes oh my god okay well enough Santa biding economic insecurity
is perhaps a better measure so alright Chuck I’m gonna go through this quickly
child support I’ve made some contributions in that dan
Meyer and Maria cancion at the University of Wisconsin have made
seminal contributions in this area in child support I would say that
contributions from social workers dominate the literature and moving ahead
quickly to asset development so yesterday we gave an award to Michael
Jordan for his work and asset development as I’ve said to friends and
colleagues he makes me look like a piker in terms of what he’s done and asset
development I don’t want to say he’s he and his students and colleagues are the
entire literature but it’s pretty remarkable pretty remarkable
contribution comparative research icon and cameramen using the Luxembourg
income study again social workers have made incredible contributions their
modern case studies we have some remarkable examples chin gala sitting in
the audience there has done a study of China China’s the bowel system
it’s the largest public assistance program in the world and Jane waffle
goes book on child poverty Britain’s war on poverty again remarkable important
study a child welfare this this is our area we have the professional it’s like
maybe we should curse God for giving it to us it’s the hardest area but we
haven’t we have it and the scholarly contributions have been remarkable they’re people sitting in the audience
here Jane wall Fogle you can look down the
list this is just child maltreatment and child protection but also if you look at
foster care guardianship adoption and independent living again very impressive
a couple notes on the current state of scholarship we’ll come back to them if
you have questions aren’t the health policy well health policy is an area
which we literally chose because it’s not an area where we’ve had this kind of
influence but it’s an area where Social Work is playing a incredibly big role
and a growing role and scholarship now is beginning to emerge so especially in
the area of one way I think about health policy and the role of Social Work is
that a lot of health problems are not best addressed by health professionals
they’re actually best addressed by social workers because a lot of the
issues about health are not just health profession related quickly and so I
think two interesting developments in health is that we now have a chance that
there may be a National Academy of Science panel created that would be take
a look at the role of Social Work in the conclusions
so a scholarship is strong in anti-poverty research and child welfare
promising and health policy in terms of policy influence I would say the
professional role is mixed we have a very prominent place at the table but
what we’ve actually achieved if we should only view it as limited it’s not
that we’ve not achieved anything but we’ve not achieved what we aspire to and
we need to work on that with respect to pass the future success I would say the
keys are and if you go back and look at the slides you will see one is to remain
up to date in research skills second to hire scholars from different disciplines
and I would say especially economics I had a little bias I’m a half economist
myself but I think it’s not just bias I think if you look at the contributions
working in interdisciplinary teams I think that’s essential and if you looked
at the items that are listed you’d see an enormous amount of interdisciplinary
cooperation creator played leading roles in research institutes and laboratories
I think it’s I began with the Institute for Research on poverty I think you will
see Institute’s scattered across the country that social workers are involved
in I think that’s essential for our continued leadership and second I think
and this is something we are very good at comes naturally to us which is
collaboration with government and also with foundations but I think the
collaboration with government us being a practice profession makes it a knack
even when we have better so limitations then that methodology is unique you
could say for focusing on first-rate papers to make the claim that Social
Work research is strong is it some way there’s an element of tautological but
here’s the thing we could have come up empty that is there could you know if we
use that as the test there could have been no papers and the contrast between
health where we have less and anti-poverty research we have more is an
second the focus on our own expertise question raises the question is are our
findings generalizable I think the answer is yes I think all across the
country in different areas you will find first-rate contributions from Social
Work but that’s a hypothesis I don’t have the evidence I didn’t present the
evidence lastly let me say it’s a preliminary draft and look forward to
feedback first Mara thank you thanks much or yes we have Maura Curtis
from one of the institutions that the rivers talking about as the Institute
for search on poverty as they’re discussing hi so I had the benefit of reading the
whole PowerPoint slide so maybe you’ll get some of it in the context of of my
comments so this was a fun and interesting task what Earvin colleagues
were charged with doing and so in thinking about providing comments on
something like this about the nature and state of a Social Work research and
policy in particular and areas of competence in areas moving forward it’s
a big question yeah so I thought about it in this way policy practice in
historical context that’s what I craved I craved that it create a bit of
historical context and I kept thinking about the fruit the fierce urgency of
now like the times were living in now in reference to where we have expertise
historically so what was the author’s charge what they were charged with doing
was to assess the conditions of social policy research in social work at the
dawn of the 21st century and make recommendations for future success it’s
daunting I agree with herbed at all it’s a hard thing social policy research is
very broad poverty child welfare health aging housing neighborhood and Community
Development anti-discrimination criminal justice tax and gender and others and so
their approach as Earth outlined was to focus on three areas that are central to
social a society and social work and I would add existing expertise and
developed infrastructure structural relationships trust and historical
practices okay and so they came up with these three pots poverty child welfare
and then health with newer research focusing there okay so it’s a big test
so then I wanted to restate it okay so I would restate the challenge a bit more
broadly I think there’s a number of ways to approach thinking about this task
both both conceptually and practically so it’s overwhelming and it’s
overwhelming for what I think is a good reason the breadth depth and function of
Social Policy Research and Social Work it’s conducted by Social Work scholars
or in and on systems delivering Social Services and by a wide range of actors
within allied with or produced by an agency or governments we’ll need for
policy research finding so that function of how folks are doing their work
determines in part the the questions asked in the policy process so let’s
think about those three core areas particularly for the first two there’s
no doubt and both the present and current historical dominance of Social
Work scholars in these areas and what I’m struck by which makes my point okay
earth was talking he’s talking about this person who he trained who then went
over here and this person who knows this person so you see the how the focus of
the training around a particular substantive area and then where people
go into different systems and then the potential for that collaboration over
time even out of interest area I think that matters so I think about history
opportunities because I’m a hopeful gal I’m hopeful gal and expansion I want to
know why why dominates in child welfare right in particular why domiciled
wofford why dominates in poverty it wasn’t that folks set around necessarily
in the linear fashion and said oh I’m going to take on child welfare there’s a
particular history to each one of these develops areas of dominance so to put
more formally each area of current dominance has a story that combines a
seized or facilitated presence in response to an observed social problem
right place right time research labor opportunity professional policy practice
dominance governments will change that needs to be delivered or evaluated and
it’s a confluence of these different pressures and then the expertise is
developed ok so because I like to but so then I took a little time rereading some
stuff and thinking about who doesn’t want to think about Fran
miss Perkins who doesn’t want to think about Frances Perkins her time at Hull
House her time in New York State an architect of the New Deal hey Harry
Hopkins and then where he goes and so that’s an older example but that example
of how these folks interacted in these different functions different roles and
different systems and then went into different systems and then when they
needed to know something about something that they didn’t know there was someone
in their network in their system who didn’t know that and so then they
reached out across and abroad okay so here’s my today what are the
opportunities what are the new opportunities have a concerted attack on
the basic structure of the welfare state right now and norms of democratic
process opened up for social policy research and practice thank you I don’t
have the answer to this question but I want to entertain the question because
will I become concerned about what I am I know know how I was trained to think
about the world but I don’t know what I don’t know and I don’t know who I don’t
know and that lack of knowing that means I might miss opportunities that combine
the political context that we’re living in and maybe there’s practice dominance
in an area but it doesn’t get half infrastructure or research
infrastructure but maybe it’s deeply important to the profession the nature
of the democracy or the unraveling of our welfare state I want social work to
be there I want to lose any of that we’re doing but if there’s new places I
want to know that I know what they are so how do we take into account the
fierce urgency of now that will ensure we have maintained and expanded the
reach of our professional presence and policy practice and have some kind of
method for not for understanding how to incorporate the time in which we’re
living so that we have methods for not missing the next that’ll keep us busy great thank you
very much more so we have we have time for questions comments and all I would
say is I would ask you to keep your questions or comments to one minute or
less that’s actually a fairly long period of time and it’ll allow us to
have more and if nobody comes up you can continue your question after that but
for now let’s just do that and then please identify who you are and
where you’re from is this on you know I’m Bobby Everson’s
from the University of Pennsylvania I am a self-proclaimed ethnographer and I can
do work with low-income families and economic mobility and I have statements
more than questions but I don’t want you to forget Diana Pierce’s influence on
the Supplemental measure o the with her self-sufficiency standard she was quite
her work was quite notable in influencing that that measure and I also
want to really encourage us beyond generalizability to the depth and the
substance that can take place in terms of policy influenced by qualitative work
my work in particular has had quite strong policy influences which has
really been that’s the satisfaction of it so keep on with what you’re doing and
extend it and that’s thank you hello do you want me to introduce myself
yeah Lenna the pom Nassif from Rutgers so this is a question that I don’t know
if anyone can actually answer but my concern over these last years that I’ve
been here in the profession is the lack of focus on social policy across many
schools of Social Work as most of you know I think many of us experience the
same thing most of the students that are coming in in terms of the master’s
programs are not interested at all in social policy they’re all interested in
clinical work and I this is I think a problem so I’m just curious about what
your thoughts are on that so actually I’ll address both of the comments
briefly so I think qualitative work is very important I in the paper on
quantitative work but that is not to disparage the qualitative work at all
it’s also the case I think that there’s nothing new about the disproportionate
focus on practice as opposed to policy but I think that all schools as far as I
know social work require policy in their curriculum and whether we should do more
and that’s a good question it used to be I just speak of my own University that
we had a year-long social policy of course that was certainly the case that
SSA when I got my master’s degree it was year-long we’re now down to one semester
so I think there is a there is an issue and maybe we could ensure hi I’m Charles E Lewis jr. and I have a
non-profit the Congressional Research Institute for Social Work and policy and
what we do is try to engage social workers on the hill and if if possible
to bring research that would have some impact on legislation I’m currently
working with Michael Jordan and the with his child savings accounts and we’re
actually negotiating with congressman Carl Crowell from New York who
introduced the bill in 2015 to see if he can reintroduce that bill with a few
revisions that Michael is trying to put into it but it we’re on the hill trying
to change policy or influence policy my question is how much do we ensure that
our research will have impact on policy is the policy driving the research or
are we doing research hoping that it might have some some policy implications also Garfunkel Ward’s bite was my
dissertation chair so I wanted I wanted to just say something
Lenna where are you Anna so you know you know what I’ve come to with that idea in
terms of with the math I’m teaching undergrads now with the master’s
students is that all of these master’s students regardless of their preferences
are policy practitioners because they are street-level bureaucrats right and
so I frame it that way and then I frame it within the context of the code of
ethics it’s not and they seem to be takers because I think for social
workers who are practicing it’s really very hard they’re gonna go into state
agencies they’re going to be asked to deliver policies that are dead set
against the code of ethics and we’re in essence asking them to hold to the line
it’s not – right but that’s what I’ve done with it so if I have some bit of
peace with because it’s a hard it’s a hard thing to
do right I’m the piece about the research so
don’t you think Charles it’s both right I mean so sometimes we’re producing work
because I’m at IRP right and there’s in this relationship with the state so
sometimes we’re producing research work that the state needs to do what it needs
to do and maybe gets used in maybe a dozen and then we’re doing the other
parts of our job other people have deeper knowledge in this but I think
about it is I always look for the sweet spot because don’t want to do things I
don’t want to do and I don’t want to do things I don’t think matter so when I’m
in the room with people at least and these things are negotiated I try to
find the sweet spot where the the problem conceptualization and the
product that we’re going to produce if it’s shared enough one would hope that
the results then are how I experience it from where I’m sitting and I know
whether people think but sultans NASW have had the opportunity over the last
thirty years to work in three social work organizations at that intersection
of research policy practice and education and I also had F as my social
policy professor at the University was constant only forty some odd years ago
but I was just kind of delighted and I guess I sort of took a breath of fresh
air when you said that actually our social works impact on social policy in
these areas was good because I feel like in my thirty years there’s been so much
sort of denigration of the profession and what the profession does and there’s
so much good work going on and so I think valuing that and honoring that and
lifting that up is a really important piece and just to address some of the
issue around policy and integrating policy throughout the profession and
your comments or well taken you know over the last year is one of the many
initiatives that’s gone on in Social Work has been this sort of coalition to
promote policy education and practice and social work and about its eight ten
months ago this was work policy institute SW held a summit really
looking at this issue and what we needed to do in terms of the political land
scape there are action briefs resources and a full report from that that can be
very helpful as schools of Social Work that aren’t that strong and conscious in
attracting students who are really interested in policy really want to look
at how within field research practice policy could be better integrated
including what’s were thinking about when it’s in Washington thinking about
coupling the conference with some Capitol Hill briefings and things like
that so thank you my name is Cassandra Simon and at the University of Alabama I
am NOT a very eloquent speaker but I usually able to get my point across I
have an increasingly growing concern about the really active role of Social
Work as a profession in our role in social justice and advocacy and activism
and so since this particular piece has to do with especially policy and policy
practice understanding that we all have to operate within the environments in
which we live and that it’s really nice when we can find the sweet spots and we
can find that shared part but I am finding from talking to other people who
have these same kinds of issues and we just had a special interest group here
swear on social justice in social work research education practice and educational practice and the profession
about obstacles that are being put in our way to actually teach students how
to engage in legislative policy change yes I am in a very red state I am in a
state that was the continues to be the last stronghold on Jim Crow laws and
trying to continue to perpetuate those in different ways
and we are being blocked from using university resources to allow students
to try to affect legislative policies so not being able to use university emails
to promote to push forward petitions to spread those petitions to all of our
constituents where we’re being encouraged to find outside ways to do
that and use outside this serves to do that and so I how can we really teach
policy practice if we’re not able to really have students when they have an
opportunity to actually try to change the legislative policies that are on the
table but we can’t actively engage in it because oh oh well we don’t want to
upset upset the donors we don’t want to upset the legislators and I’m like I see
increasingly there we are social workers are no longer leading the charge for
social justice we get on the backs of issues that are safer we get on the
backs of issues that are popular at that time when I enter the profession it was
because I thought that we were the profession that would lead the charge to
try to effect change that we would be the ones in the front with the banner
and it seems that now what we are doing is just waiting for it to be a
hot-button issue or for it to be something that is relatively safe and
again understanding that we all have to operate we all need our jobs we all you
know need a roof over our head and foods to eat I mean and food to eat but I am
very very concerned about the profession as a whole and what it is we are
becoming and not becoming anymore especially in terms of issues of social
justice advocacy and activism so yeah so I really want to hear what
everyone has to say here so my my take on the current see that’s what I mean
about the times in which we’re living so the risks are disproportionately born
right so scholars depending on the university depending on what you
research depending on whether or not you’re a tenured what your track is
depending on whether you’re at a state or a private the risks are
disproportionately borne to do the work I recognize that profoundly and that is
very much the truth and so I think then the question then becomes for me what is
the professional response to the fact that it’s disproportionately borne by
those of us in the Academy depending on where we vary across those four
different domains and the risk is very real I’m at a state system you know my
syllabus has been for yet you can get it on my you know these are chilling things
these are real things and I feel what you’re saying and I feel that sense of
fear and worry and on all of that it’s been I think it’s if it’s the context of
the times that we’re living and when I get together with other scholars across
discipline across university some experience at more than other depending
on the region of the country that they’re in depending on if it’s a public
or a private and all of that and I don’t think we’ve talked about that as a
profession or academics at all and it is disproportionately borne depending on
the kind of research you do in the populations that you work with I don’t
have an answer I hear your problem I share it and it’s disproportionately
borne by the profession I agree I actually have a question that I’d like
to ask you so you mentioned we should invite economists and/or fold of course
we have economists but one thing that’s happened over the last 50 years is in
fact there were no schools of public policy when the National Conference
assertion would start in fact there weren’t any for many years thereafter
and you know this is sort of contested professional turf now and I’m just kind
of wondering you alluded to some of this Urban Meyer you may have some thoughts
about this as well but and we’ve got a couple of minutes you know what do you
think about that I mean it’s just something we shouldn’t think about we
shouldn’t worry about I know I have students that are told by faculties
well if you really wanted me a policy scholar you should go to you know in
their master’s program we’re told you should go to a policy school so I
haven’t studied that empirically but you know that issue I’m wondering how you
respond to that and what do you think about it
I think that’s bad advice they are schools of public policy are
potentially a competitor but they’re also potentially collaborators and I
don’t fear them I don’t again that may be a personality
trait but I think there’s plenty of room for them and for social work and I think
we have some comparative advantages over schools of public policy which by the
way are old they weren’t called schools of public policy they were called
schools of public administration and they were a wind of political science
what’s changed is they’ve hired lots of economist and in some places they’re
dominated by economists but they don’t have the practice background that we
have and they they don’t have the close connection to practice that we have
that’s one and second they cover a vast range so social social policy for them
is just one minor field a minor field and I want to return to the Mara’s
comments the fierce urgency of now because I think Mars right and it
reflects concerns that were just raised I didn’t thank you yes so look we live
in a awful environment we have a president who’s a racist we haven’t
experienced that none of us have experienced that in our lifetimes but we
have experienced it historically it’s there it’s in some level racism is not
new to us at all and it’s different because we just elected a black
president and we thought we were doing much better and then what we were so
there’s no question we’ve gone backwards the scholarship that we are doing as a
profession prepares us for when there is an opening and there will be an opening
Donald Trump is not going to be President forever the 2018 elections are
very important things could change and we have to be part of making that change
so in terms of the fierce urgency of now it’s not scholarship actually I think
it’s advocacy and being engaged in the field back to scholarship though for a
moment and preparing for when openings come right now in the National Academy
of Science panel and reducing child poverty in half child allowances
universal child allowances are the number one policy on the agenda when I
came into the profession the profession was for child allowances my actually the
first paper I published in social work with evidence of a little bit of
knowledge being a dangerous thing I argued for a negative income tax as
opposed to a child allowance once I learned the little more economics I
realized how flawed the argument I was using which came from economists by the
way but was not a correct use of economics the profession has to be
prepared I think we are that scholarship in a lot of areas is preparing us for
the next generation great actually I’m not I want to thank

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