What causes the problem?

Published by Jeannie R. Ferrell

Nov 16, 2022


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The 5- to 7-page paper (not including the title page or references) must utilize appropriate outside research and sources; the paper should use approximately 11 sources and at least 5 of those must be current (last 5 years) policy related articles from academic sources.
Please do not exceed page limit; part of professional writing is learning to build efficient and succinct arguments. In APA we refer to this as using “economy of voice.” Review your style manual for assistance.
By this time, you have familiarized yourself with several of the policies in your area of interest and have chosen one federal, state, or local policy that is suitable for this assignment. Ideally, students will choose one of the policies identified in the Social Problem and Policy Response Assignment.
*As a reminder, this can be a federal, state, or local policy that piques your interest and that is related to the practice of social work and vulnerable populations. Please be sure that you are looking at a current policy (e.g. the most recently reauthorized version of a policy if it has been reauthorized). Be sure you’re looking at something that has been codified in law – not something that has been introduced but not passed! Additionally remember that you’re looking for a POLICY – not a PROGRAM enacted as a result of a policy. Sometimes it is difficult to tease these out.
Your policy analysis must be on the policy in the current form and/or the most recent version of the policy. Papers outlining a version of a policy that is not the most current will earn a failing grade.
Discussion should include the relevance of the topic in respect to social welfare policy and describe the impact and extent of the effect on society, how it relates to social work, and ideas and suggestions for possible future action. You have been working on this assignment across the semester with four key steps:
Step 1 – Identify your social problem and policy (Conceptual Worksheet, Module 4)
Step 2 – Identify and annotated several articles (Literature Review, Module 8)
Step 3 – Draft your final paper for peer review (Small Groups, Module 13)
Step 4 – Integrate peer feedback and revisions into a final version of your paper
The final paper is written in accordance with APA style, format, and voice. It is not to be a first-person essay.
The outline for the assignment is below – ensure that you build your paper with an introduction, body, and conclusion and that within the body you address each of the eight areas required:
Signature Assignment Paper Outline
Title Page
Follow the guidelines for student papers
Summarize the overall focus of your paper and provide your reader with a roadmap/outline of your discussion.  In your introduction you should clearly identify what is your social problem and policy.
The content (i.e., body of the paper) should address the following eight areas.
History and Context of the Social Problem
What is the problem/how is it defined/who defines it as such?  Is there disagreement about whether or not there is a problem?  How is it defined?  Explain.
Provide facts and data that describe the problem.
What are the conflicting social values and beliefs that relate to the problem identification/definition/response to …
What causes the problem?
Who is affected by the problem?  Are any groups disproportionately affected?  Explore/Explain.
Power Imbalance and Struggle
Who loses from this social problem?
Who gains from this social problem?
Who opposes/supports this alleviation of the problem?
Does race, ethnicity, gender, class, age, ability, sexual orientation, or any other personal attribute play a role in this issue?
As related to the problem, what is the balance of power?
Public Reaction
Explore how voters react to this problem – are there differences based on age, income, gender, religious preference, etc.
Explore how the media covers and portrays the issue?
What are the dominant values and beliefs in the public understanding and media portrayal of this issue?  Are some values and beliefs minimized?  Why? How?
Public Policy
What is the public policy that responds to this social issue?
Describe the policy – when implemented, by whom, at what level, etc.
Has the policy changed since it was implemented?  How?  Legislative?  Judicial?  Administrative?
What are the objectives of the policy and how are those reflective of values/beliefs?
Are there hidden agendas?
Who is in support of/opposition to the policy?  (What groups have spoken out to support and/or protest the policy?)
Does race, ethnicity, class, gender, age, ability, sexual orientation, religion, or any other personal attribute seem significant in the policy?
Policy Implementation
What programs have been implemented as a result of the policy?
Are programs effective?
What are the + and – of the programs?
Who is served by the program?
Who has oversight of the program?
Is anyone group disproportionately involved in the program?
Discuss the impact of the policy – both intended and unintended
Look at the cost/benefit of the program
Has the problem changed?  How?
Legislative Intended Impact
What was supposed to be the result?
Who was supposed to be affected?
How was the problems supposed to be changed?
Public Expectations
Did the problem decrease?
Are things “better” – according to whom?
Who is satisfied or dissatisfied with the outcome?
Affected Populations
Who is touched by the program and policy?
Are there positive effects?
Are there negative effects?
Are those affected disproportionately from a particular population?
Future of Program and Policy
Is there current legislative, judicial, and/or administrative action related to the program?
Is the problem a “hot topic” in politics today?
What changes are on the horizon for this policy? Why?
The body of your paper should include headers to aid in the organization and flow of your paper.
Helpful hint.  The roadmap/outline you delineate in your introduction should coincide with your headers.
Section 2.27 of the APA manual provides you guidance on the formatting of headers
Summarize the main points of your discussion
Reference page (APA 7th Edition Manual)
See section 9.43 for guidelines on how to format the reference page
See chapter 10 for guidelines on how to format your reference entries.
Note that there are different guidelines for journals, webpages, government documents, power points, videos, etc.
This assignment is expected to have a minimum of 11 references, a minimum of 5 are recent academic sources.


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