BP11 – The Last Blog Post Ever…..

Prompt: Congrats! This is your last Blog Post for this course!

What are three things you LEARNED from this course and what is one thing you will DO as follow up?

  1. I learned how to assess a community based on observation, analysis, and intervention. It is easy for one to look around the community and judge it by its looks. For example, seeing run down houses, neighborhood gates, conditions of the roads, etc. But it is not until proper research has been conducted to be able to look deeper within the community. Looking for the consensus of the demographics, industry, educational attainment, etc. truly shows the true character of the community. At first, it can be overwhelming to looking into a community, however, the finishing product can give you a sense of accomplishment.
  2. I learned the value of mutual understanding through Karen Hill’s talk. The story of the “waffle cookie” gave a great insight on changing how we see things. I remember her talking about our surroundings with others with different viewpoints than us is greater than surrounding ourselves with people of similar viewpoints. This can be due to us creating success when we have formed understandings with others that have different ideas. She was my favorite guest speaker of the semester because of the impact she left.
  3. Learning about the various interactive activities (ice breakers) taught me how to gage various groups through-out all types of community/team building. My favorite would be the selfie/nice comment one because the activity indicated kindness and appreciation of others through actions and words.

Follow-up: One thing I will do as a follow-up is to utilize what I have learned to my career and personal life. After doing the community assignments, I drive around looking at communities very differently now. I have changed my mindset on how I look at a community.

I would also like to share Karen’s waffle story to others around me, not only to remind myself of mutual understanding, but to share with others our mindset in how we see things.

Lastly, I would like to utilize some of the activities we participated in during class. Social workers sometimes work with direct clients and sometimes in groups. So these activities are great to know and use for various group settings.

Advocacy Activity

Before going into this semester, I honestly had no clue what advocating was. It wasn’t until I attended The NASW Legislative Day Conference held at the Oklahoma State Capitol on February 7, 2017, that led me to believe social workers can do much more than helping through direct client interactions.

Although it starts at the micro-systemic level of forming professional relationships with our clients, social workers do much more to impact the other systemic levels of society. Meaning, social workers only hold so much power and authority (if at all) in society; we can only do so much to help our clients. However, the people that can actually make the decisions impacting our clients live right in our community working alongside us on the same issues. Those people are called our representatives and senators. Social workers can do what is called advocating by speaking to the representatives and senators within that certain community/district.

On the day of the conference, I was able to listen to a panel of representatives from various districts give their opinion on social issues. One representative, from Edmond, gave a lasting impression on me because he spoke about the many policies and bills being written and clashing with other policies and bills creating such chaos and debate. He emphasized mutual understanding and working together to solve an issue instead of creating a bill to demoralize another bill. Granted, he believed that bills and polices should be created to put the “bad people” away, however, he thinks there is a gap in the system on finding common ground.

After listening to the panel, students were given the opportunity to speak to their representative and senator from their districts. I planned on meeting my representative, Jon Echols, and introduce myself to him. I have to be honest in saying I didn’t know what to speak to him about and, quite frankly, did not want to waste his time just to introduce myself. But I had it all planned out in my head to say, “I am a graduate student getting my master’s degree in social work degree, I just wanted to introduce myself to you because it is likely we will talk more in the future (due to some advocating), and I was glad I got to meet him.” I repeated this over and over in my head because I was so nervous to meet him and didn’t want to seem unprepared. I still wanted to meet him because this was my first time learning about advocating and I wanted to make the most of it. I know if I wasn’t able to directly make a difference in my client’s life, then the representatives could indirectly impact them. I wasn’t doing this for myself, rather, I was doing this for my future clients and helping them achieve justice in society. I walked into the capitol and headed towards his office where his secretary stopped me and asked if I needed something. I asked for Mr. Echols and she said he was not available at the moment and she could take a message. I gave the secretary my information such as my name, who I am, and why I wanted to see him.

Afterwards, I saw other students from the cohort and asked how their experiences went, and they said their representatives were not in their office. Soon enough, we found out all the representatives and were not in their office because they all went to a funeral. The senators, however, were at the capitol but we found out they were all at a meeting. So the majority of the students were not able to speak to any of the representatives or senators, but we all got a good learning experience out of the conference.

I learned that the representatives and senators are humans too. Meaning, we are all trying to work and make a positive difference in society, but there will be disagreements along the way. How to resolve those disagreements is to working through those disagreements and finding the purpose in what is being worked for. I also learned that it is more dangerous to be around people who agree with you all the time versus being around people who have different ideas. I know my plan was to meet my representative and introduce myself to him. Even though my plan didn’t work out, I still learned a lot through the discussion panel.

BP11 – Child Welfare

I was first introduced to a child welfare experience through my practicum at OU Children’s Hospital. The hospital has a high rate of mom’s experiencing late pre-natal care during their pregnancy which is in indicator of drug abuse during pregnancy. When the doctor’s learn that a pregnant mom has had zero to no pre-natal care, it is questioned and staff try to find out why and this involves the hospital social workers. The hospital social workers would visit with the mom and provide necessary resources for mom and baby. However, the doctors do test the baby’s meconium which is the specimen within the umbilical cord to see if the baby has any traces of drugs within its system through the mom. If the lab results come back positive, the hospital social workers are notified to make a referral to DHS. The difference between what the hospital social workers do compared to DHS is that DHS makes the decision if the baby is safe to discharge with mom.

From reading the chapter, one historical policy that stuck out to me was The Maternal and Infancy Act of 1921 reminded me of my experience at practicum. This act was formed to decrease the number of deaths on infants and moms. Another historical policy pertaining to child welfare results to child protection services. This is due to the main providers (parents) of the child no longer being the child’s protector due to indications of abuse. Therefore, the Cruelty to Children was formed to protect young children from abused households.

Current aspects of current child welfare are federal funding for child welfare rapidly growing (Table 15.2) and the study of maltreated children. The growing numbers of children being maltreated is a growing concern. The federal Administration of Children and Families help to set guidelines of maltreated children.

BP10 – Evaluation

Prompt:
Explain the importance of evaluation as a concept.
In the Krajewski et al., please summarize the findings of the program as reflected in the program evaluation.

Evaluation as a concept can be tested through qualitative research based on the articles of past research conducted. This type of concept is qualitative because it takes on subjective perspectives. In this case, Krajewski et al. (2010), took the concepts of evaluation through empowerment in youth. The findings of the program indicates how youth understanding is a factor to determining the success of the program evaluation. The youth in the program were able to grasp the concept of what working is like as an adult.”With that being said, the youth were to learn responsibility, discipline, and time management. The results showed a higher rate of success than failure deeming that the youth came through the program with new acquired skills.

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.

BP10 – Homelessness

Just last week, friends from my cohort and I spoke about our high school days. One friend from the cohort brought up a classmate that got called out by the teacher because of his bodily odor. Though the teacher never revealed who this student was, she was looking directly at the student when talking to the class. We then brought up the matter that we all knew someone in high school that had poor hygiene and concluded that it was not their fault. Most of the time, these students’ household did not have proper hygiene was because of matters in the home. Maybe the household could not pay the water bill of that month – so the water was shut off. Maybe the household could only afford certain things and had no money left to spare to purchase other items. Maybe the students’ families were without a home and had no choice but to live in certain conditions. In the end, we don’t know what these students went through, yet people were so quick to judge in high school.

Reading over the homelessness section reminded me of our conversation. Homelessness was rooted from economic troubles of the country. When the country is doing badly in the economy it results to people being affected by the changes because their lifestyle cannot keep up. One factor of homelessness is households not being able to provide for their families because too little money is being made. Another factor is individuals being in uncontrollable situations such as domestic violence. This causes individuals to leave their homes and everything else behind in search of a safer environment. A current issue is youth that are homeless because the number have been consistent in getting higher. There are resources offered and plans by the government to end homelessness, however, fixing the homeless problem starts with housing. Housing is a main determinant of solution when it comes to homelessness because families are allowed time to regain control of their lives while being taken care of. There are direct resources linked to housing that families can seek services from. Also, those in housing are able to be accounted for in federal surveys. This can lead to the government to understand how many people are considered homeless and can therefore lead to creating more resources.

BP9 – Strategical Plannning

Prompt:

Citing Bryson (Chapter 1), what is strategic planning, what does it measure, and why is it necessary? Literally how do we strategically plan?

According to the text, strategic planning is what helps leaders know and make the judgement of what to do for the organization and its members. This type of planning helps leaders to draw a path for the group/organization to work on any issues, type of way to accomplish goals, allowing leaders to see the various groups dynamics, and making room for improvement. Based on the group’s discussion, strategic planning measures the extent on how much change occurs in terms of group’s need. This occurs by first looking at the group’s purposes, then proceeds to where the group is currently at in achieving its goals, and lastly how the group wants to get to the end goal. Strategic planning is necessary because it allows the group to move forward in utilizing methods that work and methods that don’t work. When I read this article, I think of strategic planning as something the leader literally does in planning for the group. This could be something such as planning the ice breakers for the class or planning the syllabus for the school year. Overall, I look at strategic planning as the leader seeing the goals and picturing the movement even before the group does. But also, the leader working with the group to find common ground and moving towards how to implement and get to the goals.

BP9 – Crime & Corrections

 

There are two main philosophies regarding crime and corrections: rehabilitation (trying to help reform prisoners so they don’t reoffend) and punishment (giving consequences to those who offend as punishment and also a deterrent against future criminals).  Based on what the book says, would you say the US has historically had a rehabilitative or punitive approach to crime? Do you see this continuing or changing, based on current issues and trends?  Defend your position with at least 3 historical policies and one current trend.

I have the slightest clue when it comes to corrections, but what I do know, is that prisons are getting more people than what the facilities can keep up with. Based on what the book says, at first it seems the US had a punishment approach to crime and corrections. The book draws this inference back to the eighteenth century. If acts of hate/evil occurred, in return, the person would get crucial punishments for them. However, the way crime was being handled changed with time. People began to grow conscious of preventing crimes from happening again rather than focusing more on punishing those for the crime. Thus, prisons were for the purpose of putting away the “bad” people as a way to prevent the crime from happening again. Crime and corrections took a change during the nineteenth century when a man named John Augustus thought of a great idea to help those in prison. Augustus developed what we know as probation today. This sought to help those in prison get fair justice based on the extent of the crime, bail, and seek help such as rehab. So it seemed the crime and corrections system was taking a turn for the better. However, society looked at these people as objects when they experimented with them through sterilization. There was also a growing concern that the trend of prisoners were minorities, colored people, and women and children. So now, it’s back to the punishment approach to crime. In today’s time, I feel there is a balance with the approach to crime just because there are more resources offered today for rehabilitation purposes.

Based on current issues and trends, I think policies are good to have because it provides structure to society. However, I also feel that policies give too much structure and clash with the various systems going on. This could explain why correction facilities are being overfilled with people. I truly believe when someone does something horribly wrong then they should lose their rights, but I believe there should be some consistency in punishment. There is a trend going on with the number of people in jail increasing as the years increase and the problem with that is the cost significantly increases.

Karger, H. J., & Stoesz, D.  (2013). American social welfare policy: A pluralist approach (7th ed.).  New York: Allyn & Bacon.

BP8 – How Social Workers can Build Leadership

Prompt: Referring to Brueggeman’s article, what are 3 ways that social workers build community in groups through their leadership? Please explain your answers and give 2 concrete examples of how you have seen these elements accomplished in your own group experiences.

Brueggeman’s article mentions multiple ways social workers build communities in groups through their leadership. Although leaders are the main person to consult and direct members of the community  to common goals, leaders would not be able to accomplish tasks if it were not for community members coming together. “Gathering people together” is the first task to building a community. Leaders must work alongside members of the community to work towards common goals. Community members are brought together through forming organizations, recruitment, and even simply by word of mouth. Once leaders have established members to be part of a team,  the  second step comes with the discussion on how these community members are feeling. By doing this, leaders can grab a sense of the dynamic of the group and may possibly clear the air to be able to move forward or members can figure out epiphanies within themselves.  This gives meaning and purpose to the group making it to where members and leaders are on the same page and work toward same goals. This then lays out the foundation to the next step for community members to develop an understanding of goals and looking outward with possible future goals wanting to be made as a community. Visions can come alive when community members and leaders share them.
An example I have seen these elements from my own experiences was just two weeks ago in class. It meant a lot to our cohort that our instructor cared enough to ask us how the course is going and what changes are needed to be made and what were things that were going well. For one, we have established that we are a cohort with a leader (our instructor); we spoke about things and expressed our thoughts to each other – most students expressed feelings of concerns, stress, anxiety because we were confronting frustrating situations. Lastly,  as a cohort, we need to be reminded of our long-term and short-terms goals of why we are here today – to become social workers. This is just part of our process to get there, and though it may be a struggle we need to envision that this process will help build strength within us and our knowledge of working as a team.

BP7 – Greenville-Spartanburg

Prompt:
As evidenced in the text, what are three ways that the leadership of Greenville-Spartanburg, SC “re-invent[ed] their future” through global partnership?

Three ways the leadership of Greenville-Spartanburg, SC “re-invented their future” through global partnership:
1. Starting with the Germans, the Greenville-Spartanburg community allowed these folks in to learn about their culture through language and lifestyle. The German folks adapted to forming their lives in South Carolina. With this type of influence, the German folks had connections back to their hometown and recruited more people to come live in South Carolina. This type of attraction allowed the community to thrive again due to foreign investments of external cultures being welcomed and productively used for their skills.
2. Second, the town has thrived in ways such as developing English language speaking programs (ESL), opening stores of various backgrounds to be available to the community, and developing schools and hospitals. This means that more jobs were created, thus, giving more opportunity for those that lived in the community to grow as a society.
3. Lastly, the common ground that the Greenville-Spartanburg community did not shy away from was welcoming foreign investments. When their community quit thriving, their solution was to welcome outsiders in and learned new skills from them. It shows that this community was open to new ways and ideas.

 

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.

BP6 – AFDC & TANF

Prompt: Explain AFDC & TANF.  Discuss the ideological and political changes surrounding the switch from AFDC to TANF. Describe the differences & similarities between the two programs.

Funded by the government, social welfare programs varies per state. Social welfare programs do not help families get out of poverty, but only designed to help families meet the most basic needs such as foods. AFDC stands for Aid to Families with Dependent Children which would later be changed to TANF, which stands for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. The purpose of AFDC was used for assisting families that did not have enough money to provide basic needs for their children.

Liberals and Conservatives had strong opinions about AFDC because of how it was being used by the peoples that were qualified for it. It just gave poor representation of the people that had AFDC because higher authorities saw it as people wanting to live off government assistance for the rest of their lives and not work to get jobs. Also, in terms of progress based on poverty level status, it does not work to improve this certain population.  TANF was then introduced and changes were made. These changes were states having more involvement by requiring each state to turn in a plan to Department of Health and Human Services. Another change was that the government helps the states by providing block grants under certain requirements such as the work participation rate, the four specific work requirements, and being able to spend the block grants on cash assistance, non-cash assistance, services, and administrative costs. The two programs differed because TANF allowed families to work, get an education, train for jobs, etc. while AFDC did not.

Karger, H. J., & Stoesz, D.  (2013). American social welfare policy: A pluralist approach (7th ed.).  New York: Allyn & Bacon.