SW 670 Social Welfare Policy and Service Delivery Systems I

Social welfare policies and services -- or the lack of them -- affect social work practice at all levels of intervention.  How a society understands the nature of social problems, how it assigns responsibility for those problems, and how it defines and allocates different kinds of assistance are fundamentally important to the lives of all its members, especially poor and vulnerable populations.  Social policies reflect the outcome of struggles over basic values in our society.  They determine how particular groups fare; moreover, they are the basis for the programs which social workers implement.

To be an effective social worker, one must understand the historical determinants of our current social welfare policies, institutions, and service delivery systems. One should be able to critique current social welfare policies and contribute to their reform on the basis of an understanding of recurrent institutional patterns, including systems of oppression.  A professional social worker must also have knowledge of the development of the profession, the role of the profession in shaping the institutions and programs intended to foster social functioning, and the profession’s engagement with the populations who utilize social welfare programs and services.  The promotion of social justice and human rights is a yardstick against which the social policies, institutions, services, and the profession itself are measured.

SW670 is the first of two courses in a sequence that introduces social policies and service delivery. Students will become familiar with basic issues, concepts, values, terminology, frameworks and ethical issues that define social welfare policy and that influence their ability to work with diverse groups and populations at risk and to think critically. Students will learn about the core policies that comprise our social response to difficulties faced by individuals, families, groups and communities.

We will focus on the following themes:

1. The development of social work as a profession

2. The historic social, economic and philosophical trends which have shaped and influenced the emergence of social welfare institutions                                          

3. The intersection of the role and history of social work and social welfare institutions and policies in defining and reducing social problems.

4. Contemporary and global shifts in social welfare.                                                   

This course requires that students be willing and ready to engage in an ongoing, safe, respectful and honest dialogue with each other and their instructor around critical social issues where opinions might differ.