Respond to the colleague’s post detailed below, with a discussion of why the evaluation of policies is often controversial and political and how the values of evaluation conflict adhere to social work values. What policy advocacy skills can social workers use to ensure that appropriate evaluations are being conducted on policies?
RE: Discussion 1 – Week 11COLLAPSE
A response to Jansson’s assertion that evaluating specific policies is strongly influenced by values with respect to the case of the evaluation of special services.
According to Jansson (2018), an example of roadblocks in passing a research-based policy was given where an advocate performed an 18 month-long study on families that had been broken up receiving special services. In this study, the advocate found that even though her research showed that the services cut the overall costs of the governing bodies providing for the children and led to more families being reunified, she may still encounter decision makers actively arguing against the implementation of her policy calling for more funding towards special services. This assertion by the author of the textbook seems to hold weight as it has been found that, in previous cases of attempted policy implementation, decision makers have often prioritized their values over the research that is presented in front of them. For example, in cases where advocates wish to pass a needle exchange program, decision makers still vote against the policy and claim that a program such as this will only increase drug usage by individuals, despite the data showing the opposite effect happening (p. 493-495).
How the values of evaluation conflict adhere to social work values
In trying to perform the best possible research to back up a proposal for a policy, sometimes the individual performing the research may place more importance on goals of the research that should not be as important as others (Jansson, 2018, p. 494). A social worker may place more importance on cost-saving measures of a policy over the course of their research, rather than the overall well-being of the individuals who are subject to the research, which may conflict with core social work values. According to the NASW Code of Ethics (2017), a core value of social work is to advocate for social justice and fight for those populations that experience oppression and are vulnerable (2017). If a social worker prioritizes the cost efficiency of a policy to appease to the values of the decision makers over seeing if the policy is indeed helpful to the populations that it seeks to serve, then there exists a conflict between the evaluation of a policy and the overall social work values. However, it is important for advocates to make sure that any research being performed on potential policies have goals that are aligned with the core values of social work, namely that these policies advocate against social injustice for vulnerable populations, recognize the importance of relationships, and treat individuals as a whole person (NASW Code of Ethics, 2017). Though this may not always be possible due to conflicting values between the advocates and decision makers, it is okay to integrate other values into the research as goals as long as values set forth by social work are of main importance in the proposal of a policy.
Practices one could use to defend the feasibility of and effectiveness of their evidence-based policy
It is important for policy advocates to still defend, or argue for, their proposed evidence-based policies, even if there is sufficient data presented along with the research performed and the policy itself. One practice that a policy advocate could use to defend the feasibility of and effectiveness of their research could be to receive feedback on their research and goals from stakeholders of the potential policy and those who might be affected by the policy. This could be obtained through the use of surveys administered to these individuals by the policy advocate and can be used as a guiding tool in helping to shape the overall research being performed (Community Toolbox, 2016). By doing this, the policy advocate could defend their research by proving to decision makers that those who will be affected by the policy and those who will be stakeholders in the policy are actively for the implementation of the policy. Another way that a policy advocate could defend their policy is by utilizing both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods. According to Jansson (2018), research and evaluation of policies does not just have to be performed by experts and evidence and social work values can work together in proving a policy’s effectiveness (p. 501). By utilizing both numerical, objective data and subjective data in the form of questionnaires and surveys, a policy advocate could be covering a lot of ground in proving the effectiveness and necessity of the proposed policy by spreading the data to both facts in the quantitative data and personal values in the qualitative data.
Community Toolbox. (2016). Chapter 8 Section 6: Obtaining feedback from constituents: What change is feasible? Retrieved from http://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/structure/strategic-planning/obtain-constituent-feedback/main
Jansson, B. S. (2018). Becoming an effective policy advocate: From policy practice to social justice (8th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning Series.
NASW Code of Ethics. (2017). Retrieved August 12, 2020, from https://www.socialworkers.org/About/Ethics/Code-of-Ethics/Code-of-Ethics-English