Blog Post 11

This semester has been a adventure to say the least! I have enjoyed GP 2 and have learned a lot about communities. I have learned that communities are all unique. As a social worker it is important to not apply a one size fits all model to each community. I have learned how to do a community analysis and the importance of it. Before thinking that I can conduct an intervention in a community it is crucial to understand the community and its entirety. I have also learned a number of different things to do with groups. I will take a number of things away from this class and I have learned new ways to work with groups and communities.

Advocacy Activity

As a budding social worker, when I entered the program, I had no idea what advocacy entailed. To a new social worker, advocacy is a word that carries a load of responsibility and can feel daunting at times. Experiencing the NASW day at the Oklahoma Capitol allowed me to gain perspective and understanding for what advocacy is and what it looks like. The NASW day at the capitol was a chance for social workers to come together, gain an understanding, and meet with representatives and hopefully build rapport.

To start the day Frannie Pryor, who is the NASW-Board President, spoke about social work values and social justice. As social workers, it is our responsibility to advocate for vulnerable populations. This may be on a smaller, one on one scale, or it could be on a larger scale, advocating for policy. The NASW takes the core values very seriously. Frannie Pryor talked about the importance of working under those core values in whatever capacity the social worker is in. Another guest that was there to speak was Kara Joy McKee. One thing that McKee said that resonated with me was that marches are great for bringing people together for a cause, but are not great for inciting policy change. She said that it is important for people to get out and write letters, make phone calls, and talk with representatives. Of course organizing marches can be helpful in bringing awareness, but as social workers, we must be more active. During the day there was also an opportunity to hear from representatives through a legislative panel. Although it was brief, it gave me a chance to hear from them and understand that we might differ in views, but finding common ground is crucial if both sides want to be heard. The representatives discussed the importance of having a presence and being involved. We then had a breakout session to meet our representatives. I was unable to meet directly with my representatives, but the experience was helpful in making the process seem doable. It is scary thinking about discussing policy with my representatives, but walking around the capitol and finding their offices makes it more approachable in the future.

As stated before, I am an aspiring social worker who had little knowledge about what advocacy looked like from a social workers perspective. Attending the NASW day at the capitol provided me with an understanding of what advocacy is. The main thing that I took away from the day was that social workers have to stay engaged and active. It is not enough to sit in an office and seeing clients. Social workers have to be involved in policy changes that will affect them and their clients. I also gained the understanding that representatives are people and want to be treated as such. I feel like with politics we sometimes forget that we are all human! Speaking with the panel, and hearing what drew them to their position, was refreshing and humanizing.  Whether I am working with individuals or groups, advocating in an office or at the capitol, it is important to operate under the social work values. Advocacy can seem overwhelming at times, but attending the NASW day at the capitol was a helpful guide for how to successfully advocate for vulnerable populations.

Blog Post 11

The Bureau act of 1916 created an agency to collect data and information on children. This Act also prevented the interstate transportation of goods manufactured by children.  The maternity and infancy act of 1921 was established to set up programs that aimed towards decreasing infant and maternity mortality rates. However in 1918, the supreme court ruled the child labor act unconstitutional and the maternity infancy act was terminated by 1929.

In more recent history, the health of the mother and infant has become more of a concern. WIC is a federal program designed to enhance the health of low income mothers while pregnant and their infants. Low income mothers and children are eligible for food assistance to obtain nutritional food. Seeing that mothers and children are properly nourished is very important for improving overall health of low income families. Although the teen pregnancy rates have declined, it is still a concern for adolescents having children. This is a serious issue because young mothers are likely to drop out of school. This makes their chances of living in poverty very high. Also, teen mothers are more likely to need to depend on welfare. Many times these issues seem like problems that only the individual has to worry about. However, as a society, it may be more cost effective to develop systems and programs before the teens are having children or needing assistance. The history of child welfare is important to understanding the system. It is also important to note that there are still issues facing children that need to be addressed today.

Blog Post 10

The process of evaluation is important when implementing a new program or reviewing an older program. Evaluation lets the people involved in the program know if the results they are seeing are due to the program or other factors. Evaluation is also important for funding. Most times an agency or organization is going to need money for whatever they are trying to implement. Investors want to know that their money was well spent and to know if they want to fund projects in the future. The evaluation process is in place to understand the results of a project, program, or study; it is also in place to make future improvements on the overall structure of the project. Without the evaluation phase, people could be working through programs with out understanding or a goal.

According to Krajewski, Wiencek, Brady,  Trapp, Rice, there was a slow start for kids in the program, however towards the end there was major improvement in all of the target areas (Krajewski et al., 2010). Teens learned how to budget money, they were empowered, they learned basic life skills, and they learned preforming arts skills throughout the program (Krajewski et al., 2010). The program was successful in allowing kids to understand the power of themselves, and it also allowed kids to see the negative consequences of their behavior. Looking at the results and the evaluations it can be shown that the program hit many of the goals that they set out to hit, there were also shortcomings and hopefully this will lead to improvement in the future.

Krajewski, E. R., Wiencek, P., Brady, S., Trapp, E., Rice Jr., P. (2010). Teaching employable skills to special education youth: An empowerment approach. International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 5(1), 167-176.

Blog Post 10

There are many pieces of legislation in relation to housing. The housing act of 1937 eliminated unsafe housing and mandated safer housing for low income families. The model housing act of 1966 focused on improving housing conditions for bilingual neighborhoods. The home mortgage closure act focused on redlining houses. Redlining is the outright refusal of insurance companies, banks, or other financial institutes from providing services due to poverty of a location.

One current housing issue that citizens face is the rising cost of rent and the rising number of people who are renting homes. Renters carry the high monthly costs, and they also are not receiving home ownership. Home ownership is also and issue. Due to the higher numbers of renters, home ownership is at an all time low. Factors that are contributing to the low ownership rates are condition of housing, high financing rates, low income jobs, and ownership costs. Gentrification is another issues that neighborhoods face. Gentrification is when younger white collar workers move into older neighborhoods. The neighborhoods are predominately minority communities. Gentrification can sometimes transfers people out of the area and make housing less affordable for people.


Blog Post 9: Strategic Planning

According to Bryson, Strategic Planning is  “a deliberate, disciplined approach to producing fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, what it does, and why” (Bryson, 2011, Pg. 7).  This is important for organizations, agencies or projects to have a direction for what they are trying to accomplish. The strategic planning process involves gathering information, considering judgement and what are possible options, addressing issues, enhancing learning, and creating public value (Bryson, 2011). This appears to be a holistic  approach in understanding what the purpose of the organization is. The strategic planning process can be used to measure if a group is successful in their goal. Is a group setting out to do what they envisioned, or does there need to be a shift in the plan? These are important things to established when ideas are being formulated, and these things also need to be revisited as an evaluation. Working in groups can be difficult; there are differing opinion, values, personalities, and vision, so having a plan before things start to take shape is helpful for a group to function well. Strategic planning seems to be a formal approach which may not always work for certain settings, but having a framework for a more casual approach is also necessary.

Bryson, J. M. (2011). Strategic planning for public and nonprofit organizations. Fourth Edition. Chapters 1 & 2

Blog Post 9

Historically, the criminal justice system has been a punitive system. The criminal justice system has aimed at vengeance and punishment. Punishments for criminals were torture, mutilation, and capital punishment. Halfway through the nineteenth century, John Augustus started the probation system. The system was less expensive than the current system and it aimed more towards rehabilitation of prisoners. Dorathea Dix had a goal to make jails more humane, but her efforts were not very successful. Cesare Lombroso  proposed that there was a criminal type that is unintelligent, they have certain physical features and an urge for tattooing. It seems that the U.S. has the history of punishing criminals. The idea that people should be able to make good decisions and that society should not be responsible for their poor choices is the idea that the U.S. has operated under.

In my opinion the U.S. wants to lock criminals away and not deal with it. We think of them as defects of society and it is easier to deal with things when they are “out of sight, out of mind”. The rising rates of female incarceration rates in the U.S. shows that we are still operating under the punishment idea.  Drug courts and other programs have since been developed to rehabilitate people who have broken the law. Programs like this is a start to move towards rehabilitating criminals, and in the end that it the goal because most of the time these people will be reintroduced to society. We want them to have skills to succeed in society.

Blog Post 8: Leadership

A social worker has many assets that make them a pivotal member is facilitating community leadership.  According to Bruggerman, the four functions involved in social leadership are feeling to build community, thinking to develop strength, intuiting to envision  and reflect, and sensing to engage in action to make social change.  (Bueggerman, 2006). To gather people in communities, it is encouraged to have to community members get in touch with their feelings and motivations (Brueggman, 2006). Promoting feelings and gathering perspective for why the project or activity is important can establish direction. Ways to evoke feeling and emotion may be through sharing experiences and stories, this may give others drive towards a goal. It may also be helpful to visit a potential area to see what the community needs and it makes the purpose me concrete. Thinking to develop strength may entail confronting the past and sharing statistics. This may involve a group reflection, or walking through the numbers and allowing the group to have facts that also go along with the emotions. Intuition to envision is helpful to establish a group vision and a clear direction. Recognizing a group members ability to lead with a vision may be crucial in the functioning of a project. If a group member is showing great skills in that area, it may be helpful to appoint them to lead on the visionary front. Making a list of common visions may allow group member to gain perspective and find a common vision that is shared. When leading groups and group projects, these things can my critical to the success or failure. It is important to recognize strengths, lead with a purpose, and always remember the reason for your drive.

Brueggmann, W. G. (2006). In The practice of macro social work. Chapter 4

Blog Post 7: Medicare and Medicaid

Medicare is an insurance program that covers those who are 65 and over, and also services those who are young and disabled, as well as dialysis patients. Medicare is a federal program that is primarily the same throughout the U.S. Medicare has two parts, Part A and Part B. Part A is hospital insurance and Part B is Medicare insurance.

Medicaid serves low income people who can be any age. Usually Patients do not pay for any cost of the medical treatment received. However, there may be co-pay that is required. Medicaid is a federal-State program that can vary from state to state. Medicaid is run by state and federal governments within federal guidelines. Medicaid provides health coverage for some low-income people, families and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities.

There are two aspects to cutting health care costs, one involves cutting the cost of governmental health care programs, and the second lowers the health care cost in the insurance, physician, pharmaceutical, and hospital sectors. Due to the rising cost of Medicare, the federal government has had to seek alternatives to lowering the cost. In 1983 Congress enacted the DRG form of Medicare payment called prospective payment when federal government specifies which things will be covered.

Blog Post 7

Part 1: Greenville-Spartansburg was known as the “textile capitol of the world” however, they realized that even that wouldn’t stop the decline of the textile industry. Many of the citizens of Greenville worked in the nations largest mills. The worked spinning, weaving, and doffing. There were other small farms and pultry plants, but the community was centered around the textile industry. Due to leadership, the community was able to stay centered on workforce improvement and was able to restructure their economy. Greenville’s success could be attributed to the continued expanding investments of foreign companies,. Roger Milliken encouraged European manufacturers to stay closer to their consumers by moving to South Carolina. South Carolina also made it more appealing for European businesses to  do business by amending alcohol laws and making it possible to import wine.

Part 2: Pittsburgh was once a city that had polluted air and rivers, but in the 1940s there was a restructuring time. Leaders felt that they had to make a change for the future of their city. In 1944, the Allegheny conference was established with the aim to advocate for antipollution laws. When the manufacturing industry began to change in 1970 through 1980, they planted roots in medicine, education, energy and technology. Over the years, Pittsburgh has worked to clean the water, redevelop the waterfront, and added parks and trails. The city was one of three that was able to recover from the great recession. This says a lot about the city by how they chose to invest in the future by cleaning up the environment and making the economy thrive during a difficult time.

Morse, S. (2014). Smart communities: How citizens and local leaders can use strategic thinking to build a brighter future (2nd edition). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.