Walden University Policy Alternative Research Paper

Submit a 3- to 4-page paper that addresses the following:

  • What is the policy alternative?
  • What, if any, change(s) in the policy alternative are necessary, and where will they need to occur (local or state)?
  • Is this policy alternative congruent with social work values? Explain.
  • What is the feasibility of the alternative policy (political, economic, and administrative)?
  • Does the policy alternative meet the policy goals (e.g., social equality, redistribution of resources, social work values, and ethics)?
  • What are the forces that are for the policy? What are the forces that are against the policy?
  • What policy advocacy skills can be used to support the policy alternative?
  • How does the policy alternative affect clinical social work practice with clients?
  • What changes could be made in the policy to support the needs of clients seeking clinical services?

Be sure to incorporate at least five scholarly articles you found using standard APA format.

Walden University
SOCW 6361: Social Policy: Analysis and Advocacy
Immigration remains a highly contentious issue both at the state and federal levels. Both
legal and illegal immigration contribute to social issues. Among them are socio-economic
inequality and unequal access to resources, especially among immigrants. According to the
American Immigration Council, of the 44 million immigrants in the U.S during 2019, 2.5 million
were children (Immigrants, 2021). The high number of immigrant families in the U.S population
has raised significant social problems, especially towards immigrant children. For instance,
children born in immigrant families face unequal school opportunities, poverty, linguistic
isolation, poor access to healthcare services, and limited digital access (McHugh, 2021). Over
the years, the federal and state governments have formulated laws and policies to promote
immigrants’ welfare and protect them from social injustice. For instance, Florida State enacted
the 1996 Work and Gain Economic Self-Sufficiency (WAGES) Act to enhance employment
opportunities for welfare recipients. The act was designed to promote financial independence
through employment and training, child support, and healthcare provision. The key features of
the WAGES act include time-bound assistance, strict participation requirements, the penalty for
non-compliance, one-time cash payment, family cap policy, elaborate eligibility criteria, and
one-stop service delivery.
The selection of WAGES as the best policy to address social inequality among immigrant
children was informed by the act’s capacity to lobby for income support and social services in
Florida. Initially, the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) act was responsible for
channeling cash support to needy families (Holcomb et al., 1999). However, AFDC faced policy
issues that limited its capacity to benefit economically-deprived families of the much-needed
income assistance. For instance, AFDC’s average monthly benefit per family was $277 in 1995,
which was $104 less than the national average (Holcomb et al., 1999). Therefore, the Florida
State legislature, under the leadership of Governor Chiles, advocated for policy change by
enacting comprehensive welfare reform.
WAGES was developed to mitigate the problem of insufficient funding by the federal
government and spearhead basic income support to marginalized families. The new act
introduced changes to the administrative structure of the welfare-to-work services by replacing
state authorities with local, community-based coalitions. Hence, WAGES increased Florida’s
capacity to receive a relatively higher percentage of the nationwide social support fund.
Although WAGES provided an alternative welfare support program that improved government
funding, the policy had strict regulations that barred truly needy families from accessing cash
assistance (Holcomb et al., 1999). My social advocacy differs from Florida’s legislative reform
in terms of beneficiary focus. In my opinion, social welfare policies should prioritize the less
privileged in society by minimizing bottlenecks to income accessibility.
Florida welfare reforms have impacted the population both positively and negatively. The
merits of WAGES include increased employability due to specialized training programs,
commendable child care support to parents facing financial hardships, cash assistance to families
with one absent parent, subsidized health insurance, and prevention of unwanted teen
pregnancies. Conversely, Florida’s welfare reforms have also devastated families who are
intentionally or unintentionally flagged as non-compliant. Beneficiaries who fail to satisfy
welfare policy requirements face full-family sanctions and time limits that throw families into
emotional and economic distress. As a clinical social worker who encounters victims of punitive
welfare reforms, advocating for change is inevitable. Welfare programs are designed to mitigate
social problems and not amplify them through strict regulations and harsh disciplinary measures.
Therefore, my plan for social advocacy will include raising awareness to facilitate
communication among individuals, groups, and organizations. I will employ cause advocacy
strategies to advocate for policy changes that are sensitive to the needs of immigrant families in
the US. My overall strategy will involve relying on effective communication, mobilization, and
legal action (Cox, Tice, & Long, 2017). By initiating communication across relevant
stakeholders within social workgroups, I will first focus on relaying research-based arguments
concerning the plight of immigrant families under the existing welfare policy. Hence,
communication will precede mobilization and potential legal action to effect the necessary policy
Cox, L. E., Tice, C. J., & Long, D. D. (2017). Introduction to social work: An advocacy-based
profession. Sage Publications. Chapter 4: “Advocacy in social work.”
Immigrants in the United States. American Immigration Council. (2021, September 21).
Retrieved from https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/immigrants-inthe-united-states
Holcomb, P., Flores, K., Pernas, M., Herbig, C., Tumlin, K., & Botsko, C. (1999, February).
Income Support and Social Services for Low-Income People in Florida. The Urban
McHugh, M. [MPI Webinar]. (2021, June 2). Disparities Facing U.S. Children in Immigrant
Families: New Data and Ideas for Indicators to Promote Equity [Video].
Migrationpolicy.Org. https://www.migrationpolicy.org/events/disparities-facing-uschildren-immigrant-families
Assignment: Final Project Milestone 4: Policy Alternative
As an astute social worker and professional policy advocate, once you have selected and
identified a social problem, you begin the process of creating and implementing a policy
that addresses that social problem. One of the first things you do in the implementation
process is an analysis of the social policy you identified. There is always the possibility that
the policy created and implemented to address the social problem you identified is not
viable for a variety of reasons.
In this case, you must explore a policy alternative.
In Part 4 of your ongoing Social Change Project assignment, you will identify a policy
alternative to better alleviate the social problem you identified.
To Prepare:
• Review the article by McNutt in the Learning Resources this week. (attached)
• Review your previous Final Project Milestone Assignments.
o Identification of a Social Problem (Week 2)
o Issue Statement (Week 4)
o Identification of a Policy (Week 4)
o Social Advocacy Proposal (Week 6)
• Based on your work to date, including your insights into the selected social problem,
careful analysis of a policy, and goals for advocacy, identify a policy
alternative that would work to better alleviate the social problem while mitigating
adverse impacts for the relevant populations.
• Search for and select at least five scholarly articles to support your selection
and review of a policy alternative.
Submit a 3- to 4-page paper that addresses the following:
• What is the policy alternative?
• What, if any, change(s) in the policy alternative are necessary, and where will they
need to occur (local or state)?
• Is this policy alternative congruent with social work values? Explain.
• What is the feasibility of the alternative policy (political, economic, and
• Does the policy alternative meet the policy goals (e.g., social equality, redistribution
of resources, social work values, and ethics)?
• What are the forces that are for the policy? What are the forces that are against the
• What policy advocacy skills can be used to support the policy alternative?
• How does the policy alternative affect clinical social work practice with clients?
• What changes could be made in the policy to support the needs of clients seeking
clinical services?
Be sure to incorporate at least five scholarly articles you found using standard APA
Special Section
Is Social Work Advocacy Worth the
Cost? Issues and Barriers to an Economic
Analysis of Social Work Political Practice
Research on Social Work Practice
21(4) 397-403
ª The Author(s) 2011
Reprints and permission:
DOI: 10.1177/1049731510386624
John McNutt1
Advocacy is central to the social work profession’s commitment to social betterment and justice, yet much of what we know
about it is based on conventional wisdom. We have little evidence on the effectiveness of interventions and even less on the
costs and benefits of advocacy campaigns. This article discusses some of the conceptual and methodological issues involved
with advocacy research and provides some direction for combining research on the effectiveness of advocacy with research
on its cost utility.
community intervention, community organization, community practice, evidence-based practice, policy analysis, policy evaluation,
preexperimental design, program evaluation, quantitative, quasi-experiment
Advocacy is important to the social work profession. In many
ways, it enacts social work values concerning social and economic justice (Ezell, 2001; Haynes & Mickelson, 2000; Reeser,
1992; Schneider & Lester, 2001). The responsibility to advocate is prominent in the Code of Ethics (National Association
of Social Workers [NASW], 1996), and it is taught as a core
value in social work education. Thus, even if there were grave
doubts about its effectiveness, social workers would find it difficult to disengage from advocacy because of its centrality to
professional culture.
Political interventions can also be of immediate practical
value to organizations that are dependent on the benefits of
government funding or regulations (Berry & Arons, 2002). In
tough economic times, it is often essential to be represented
in the halls of power. However, despite the importance of advocacy and the commitment of social workers to it, there is little
evidence about how well different types of advocacy work and
whether it is worth the often considerable costs.
The accountability revolution in human services has reached
a stage in which most organizations and fields accept accountability as a part of program operations (Alter & Evens, 1990).
Public, private, and corporate funders insist on accountability,
and most human services professionals understand it as a feature of ethical practice. Every organization must evaluate each
of its activities in order to understand their contribution to overall impact and to justify the funding that each component
receives. Still, some areas of practice are more difficult to evaluate than others. Advocacy is one of those difficult areas.
There are serious conceptual and methodological issues that
must be resolved before we can properly evaluate whether the
costs of advocacy are reasonable. In the first place, the
effectiveness of various forms of advocacy is far from clear.
Much of the evidence presented in the social work literature
on advocacy is based on practice wisdom. This is also true in
much of the advocacy literature in related disciplines. If we
cannot establish that advocacy is effective, then we cannot
measure whether its efficacy is worth the cost. There are severe
challenges that must be overcome in order for us to draw a
nexus between activities that organizations engage in and the
impacts that they seek.
Second, the concrete benefits of advocacy are difficult to
establish in the manner preferred by most policy practitioners.
In some cases, for example, the objective of an advocacy campaign is to pass a law. The value of such an action depends on
the implementation of the law and then on the primary and secondary impacts that occur. These kinds of variables clearly
exceed what an advocacy campaign may be reasonably
expected to control or anticipate.
Third, there is the issue of determining what a campaign or
technique actually costs. This process is straightforward from
the perspective of cost accounting and economic analysis, but
a few issues remain unaddressed. For example, in many nonprofit organizations, the threat of losing tax-exempt status
University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA
Corresponding Author:
John McNutt, GRAHAM Hall, Newark, DE 19716, USA
Email: mcnuttjg@udel.edu
motivates managers to report as few funds as possible as
devoted to lobbying. Instead, some of the items that are often
considered advocacy might be located in other areas of the
organization’s budget.
Finally, the costs of advocacy’s potential side effects,
including those that affect third parties (what economists call
externalities), should be considered. Although some of these
are positive (such as empowering a population or creating a
sense of hope), others are not so desirable (such as bad publicity and loss of funds).
This article will deal with these issues and explore their
ramifications. We will first look at the advocacy enterprise.
We will explore the costs of advocacy efforts and examine
some of the issues involved. Next, we will look at the methodological challenges involved in evaluating advocacy. These
are daunting challenges, but some recent signs give cause for
hope. Finally, we will deal with the issue of applying economic
analysis (which differs from cost analysis) to advocacy.
Social Work Advocacy Considered
Advocacy is a core function in social work. It is also an important part of the organizational life of many social workers. As a
professional community, social workers hope that they can prevent a range of social ills and reinforce social work’s place in
society. While not every social worker is comfortable with integrating politics into their professional practice (see Haynes &
Mickelson, 2000), others are committed to the changes that
advocacy can bring.
Social workers who engage in advocacy usually differentiate between case advocacy (advocacy for an individual or family) and cause advocacy (advocacy for wider social and
community issues). This discussion will deal only with cause
advocacy. This is not to imply that case advocacy is less important to the profession and the people it serves. However, the
focus in this article is not on advocacy that helps a client but
on advocacy that is designed to bring about structural change
and hence more complicated and more difficult.
Some cause advocacy is devoted to expanding rights and
benefits by passing legislation or modifying existing policies.
This type of advocacy harkens back to the profession’s past
glories of helping to create social legislation such as the juvenile court, child labor, laws, and social security. Today, probably more of the profession’s advocacy efforts aim at profession
building and protecting existing funding streams. Although not
as glamorous as more direct advocacy efforts, this is an important work that affects the lives of social workers, their organizations, and their clients. For example, the struggle to attain
social work licensing in every state was a major victory for the
profession. Much of the legislative work is aimed at the last two
goals: sustaining the profession and securing funding.
Defending the profession’s turf is a function that almost all
professions discharge in some fashion. Most of the larger
professions—including business and industry—spend considerable sums of money on lobbying, campaign contributions,
and other types of political action. In 2008, according to the
Research on Social Work Practice 21(4)
Table 1. Political Action Committee Contributions of Various
Professions 2008
2008 Contributions
American Federation of Teachers
American Assn for Justice (Law)
American Medical Assn
American Psychiatric Assn
American Dental Assn
American Nurses Assn
National Assn of Social Workers (PACE)
Source: The Center for
Open Secrets
Center for Responsive Politics (2009), there were 14,800
lobbyists in America and 3.3 billion dollars spent on
lobbying. Since 2008 was an election year, considerable additional money was donated to candidates and political parties.
Table 1 presents several professions’ political action committee (PAC) contributions in 2008.
Much of the social work literature on advocacy deals with a
range of advocacy techniques, including lobbying, community
organizing, PACs, political campaigning, policy research, and
monitoring (Ezell, 2001; Schneider & Lester, 2001). These are
among the standard techniques used by advocates from a variety of organizations in many sectors. These techniques are
rarely used by themselves; rather, it is much more common for
an advocacy campaign to employ multiple methods.
In the past few years, technology has become an essential
part of both political campaigns and advocacy efforts (Hick
& McNutt, 2002; McNutt & Boland, 1999). What began with
e-mail and websites has now expanded to include blogs, wikis,
and social networking sites. Technology facilitates intervention
research in interesting ways (McNutt, 2006). Computers and
networks produce very good records both of the things that they
do and, in many cases, the responses they receive. We can tell
you, for example, how many recipients of an e-mail message
took the trouble to open the message. This metric, called the
‘‘Open Rate,’’ can give us a very good idea of the impact of our
mailing. This is much more difficult in traditional mailings and
leaflet campaigns.
Advocacy campaigns tend to change quickly as new challenges arise. What Rothman (1987) called ‘‘Mixing and Phasing’’ is characteristic of contemporary advocacy campaigns.
Given the time needed to successfully create major policy
change, this is not surprising. Coalitions are also a feature of
most campaigns, and different actors prefer different methods.
This is especially true in political campaigns, where daily
change is a fact of life (see Trippi, 2004).
Social workers practice cause advocacy in a number of settings including agencies, advocacy organizations, professional
associations, and grassroots organizations. Each of these settings has strengths and limitations for the advocate. Some
offer more resources, whereas others offer a greater amount
of freedom. Membership organizations present specific challenges for certain types of issues. Being a member can mean
anything from writing a check to volunteering full time for the
organization’s advocacy team. Berry (1999) notes that many
advocacy organizations have moved away from the membership organization format toward more professionalized political work. The NASW is probably the largest advocate for
professional issues in social work. NASW is a 501 (c) 6 nonprofit organization that was created by the merger of a number
of smaller organizations in the early 1950s. In terms of government relations, NASW has a national staff that deals with a host
of issues, and many states have a full-time governmentrelations position. Some of the smaller states hire a contract
lobbyist to represent their issues, or they depend on volunteer
lobbyists or the executive director. NASW has a modestly
funded PAC (Political Action for Candidate Election [PACE])
that supports national candidates and, through state level committees, state and local candidates (Colby & Buffum, 1998).
Many of the national human services organizations have
large government-relations staff. These organizations often
work together on major pieces of legislation. There are also
other professional social work associations that have interests
in policy issues. In addition, there are a considerable number
of National Advocacy Organizations that deal with social welfare issues. These include the American Public Human Services Organization, the Children’s Defense Fund, Voices for
America’s Children, and a host of other organizations. Some
of their advocates are social workers.
Advocates come in various shapes and sizes as well.
A lobbyist can be anything from a high-powered former political leader to a volunteer social worker with little or no training.
This means huge variations in experience, networks, connections, and political resources. Different forms of advocacy
require different types of expertise. Many of the activities that
advocates engage in require substantial knowledge (such as
issue knowledge and knowledge of lobbying rules and regulations) and a broad set of skills (such as drafting legislation,
organizing constituents, public education methods, and so
forth) to successfully complete. Wanting to be influential is not
the same thing as being influential.
Many advocates learned their craft in an apprenticeship
model of training. This means either working in politics or
learning from an experienced advocate. Many schools of social
work offer their students some basic information about advocacy as a part of the social policy curriculum. Lately, master’s
programs in practical politics have emerged at major universities. Although these programs are not located in schools of
social work, there is no reason that similar programs could not
be developed as a part of social work education.
Advocacy campaigns are often governed by restrictions
placed on organizations by federal law (particularly legislation
related to taxation of nonprofits and political contribution) and
state law (see Berry & Arons, 2002). The states vary greatly in
their treatment of advocacy methods. For example, the Internal
Revenue Service (IRS) does not consider administrative advocacy (lobbying governmental officials in the executive branch)
to be subject to federal limitations. This is not true in the State
of Delaware. Many nonprofits are not engaged in the policy
process. Berry and Arons (2002) found that many nonprofits
do not understand what they can and cannot do under applicable laws and that this often prevents them from taking logical
steps to protect themselves politically.
Most of social workers’ knowledge about practical politics
is practice wisdom (see Green & Gerber, 2004). It represents
the collected experience of practitioners in many fields.
This is not only true of policy practitioners in social work; it
is also true of practitioners from other fields. Although there
is a good deal of academic, social science research on topics
relevant to advocacy, this literature rarely influences practical
decisions. At least some of this translation process is underway,
but we are a long way from an evidence-based practice regime.
If we look at standard models of practice evaluation that are
used successfully with direct practice techniques, some familiar, difficult issues arise. Some of these issues will be dealt with
in the next part of the article.
Evaluating Advocacy
Evaluating advocacy practice is a potentially challenging and
frustrating endeavor. Many of the conditions required for an
effective evaluation are missing. If we assume that an experimental or quasi-experimental design provides the best chance
for establishing a causal relationship between an intervention
and an intended outcome, then we are faced with a number
of significant problems. These include:
 Shifting, Multiple or Unclear Outcomes: Some advocacy
efforts do have clear, easily measured goals. These would
include passing a law (or preventing one from being
passed), preserving funding, and other similar objectives.
Other goals, such as courting political influence and
empowering the constituency, are far less clear. These can
be difficult or even impossible to measure reliably. Even if
the original outcomes are clear and relatively unequivocal, strategic change is always possible if resistance
becomes too severe or the outcome becomes too costly.
These changes in strategy are often unclear because the
compromise outcome will be offered up as the original
goal in order to save face. Since there are usually many
versions of a potential law in a major legislative effort,
it is often difficult for the public to follow which legislation is where and what it contains. There are also times
where a desired piece of legislation is intentionally
defeated because an amendment is attached that would
do serious harm to the bill’s intended beneficiaries. There
are also cumulative change situations. Sometimes a string
of defeats precede a major victory that makes up for the
losses. These changes are nearly impossible to anticipate.
If this seems like a confusing and difficult situation, rest
assured: it is. This muddle often makes traditional
researchers throw up their hands in disgust.
 Unstable Interventions: Advocacy campaigns often shift
their focus. Different methodologies are tried and discarded. There can also be shifts as coalition partners change

Research on Social Work Practice 21(4)
and available funding waxes and wanes. Some of this fits
into what Rothman (1987) referred to as ‘‘Mixing and Phasing,’’ a process in which interventions are used together or
in sequence. In phasing, an advocacy group might file a
lawsuit to soften a target for negotiation. This could be followed by another technique, such as lobbying or negotiation aimed at a now more accepting target. The strategy
might be less planned and more reactive in some situations
where changes in policy making occur frequently.
Although it is popular to talk about the turbulent environment of many advocacy programs, they often seem tranquil
against the backdrop of a policy making.
Unclear Causal Mechanism: The dynamics of decision
making are often unclear. The policy process is often
cloaked in secrecy. Decisions are sometimes made in
response to forces that have little or nothing to do with the
issue at hand. This might include party loyalty, friendships,
and campaign funding. Revealing your decision criteria is
not a good strategy in many political environments.
Multiple Exogenous Variables: One of the conditions for
causality is that no external variables can account for the
effect. That is very difficult to establish in political situations.
There are many variables that are clearly outside the control
of the intervention or the practitioner but that can nevertheless be the difference between success and failure. News
events, other legislation, political scandals, and national disasters fall within this category. This happens in many settings, but the impact is greater in political settings because
many of the interventions are dealing with public perception.
The Political Nature of Evaluation: Evaluation research
always has at least some political dimension (see Weiss,
1971). Any process that ultimately deals with resource allocation is likely to have political overtones. Evaluation
research in a political setting is likely to be even more contentious than in most settings. Professional political operatives are comfortable with political battles and have access
to a wide range of political tools and resources. This makes
it likely that they will use this capacity to deal with potentially damaging evaluation findings.
Deceit, Misdirection, and Misinformation: Politicians often
use deception to achieve their ends. This means that many
of the artifacts of decision making (such as documents and
later reflective writings) are untrustworthy and the verbal
statements of the parties may be questionable. It also
means that researchers will have to deal with systems that
can make verification difficult. Although it may be true
that openness and transparency in government are frequently discussed as goals for the future, we are not there
yet. Just from the standpoint of complying with federal tax
law, organizations have an incentive to disguise their
advocacy activities.
In light of these barriers, some of the effort to evaluate advocacy has shifted toward the evaluation of capacity building for
advocacy. This is certainly an important issue, but it begs the
question of outcome measures for advocacy per se.
All of these factors create barriers to understanding the
effectiveness of advocacy interventions in social work and
other fields. They also make the question of costs problematic.
However, there is hope. In the past decade, the movement
toward experimental political science has begun to bear fruit.
Reasonably reliable evaluations of advocacy interventions are
now available (Bergan, 2009; Gerber, 2004; Green & Gerber,
2004). These scholars and their colleagues have begun to
examine political practice in tightly designed experiments.
This overcomes many of the problems that we have discussed
above and offers a new way that represents a comprehensive
body of knowledge at this point. Although there is a long way
to go before we can confidently point to a knowledge base, this
is an excellent start. However, such cutting-edge studies are not
social work focused.
Analyzing the Costs of Social Work
The questions of effectiveness and cost are tightly linked. If an
intervention does not work, then what it costs is really not that
important; it should not be used at all. There are serious ethical,
legal, and political consequences to using interventions that are
known to be ineffective. If an intervention is effective, however, then economic analysis offers a series of tools that can
greatly facilitate decision making.
Many of the economic tools compare costs of a particular
innovation and any side effects to the benefits and other
impacts of an intervention. Although this seems straightforward, there are a number of complications.
Not everything has an actual dollar value or what economists refer to as a market price. In the absence of such a supposedly clear standard, an analyst constructs a shadow price that
approximates the value of the cost or benefit. This is developed
logically from the value of the cost or benefit, often using conventions. If we are talking about the value of a life for example,
two accepted ways of putting a dollar value on a life are the cost
of replacement services or expected lifetime earnings. Even a
market price can be distorted by problems in the market system. Wage discrimination, for example, is a component of the
cost of labor. It distorts the actual value of labor.
In any intervention, there are direct and indirect impacts.
Direct impacts are the intended consequences of an activity and
indirect impacts are the unintended consequences. Some of
these impacts are positive and others are negative. There are
also consequences (again both positive and negative) that occur
to third parties. These are called externalities. All of these
impacts can affect both costs and benefits.
Another issue is that the value of money changes over time.
Analysts deal with this issue by discounting the value of future
dollars according to an expected rate of inflation. This means
that money in the future is generally worth less than money
in the present. Because this is not always clear in advance, a
process called sensitivity analysis considers various possible
rates. In the past, it has generally been reasonable to assume
a consistent rate of inflation. The most recent economic
Table 2. Hypothetical Costs for a Small Advocacy Effort
Cost Analysis
research to
support claim
Social media
Fringe benefits
Indirect costs
Total Costs
Survey and library research,
30 person hours at $25/hr,
$200 in postage and
5 hr at $75/hr for contract
5 days at $500/day for
contract lobbyist
15 person hours at $25/hr
22% of non consultant
40% of Costs
$750 personnel,
$200 postage and
$375 consultant
is reduced by $10
stays the same
increases by $5
increases by $10
increases by $15
Benefit (Based on
6,000 Client Episodes)
Less Cost
is reduced by $10
stays the same
increases by $5
increases by $10
increases by $15
$2,500 contract
$375 personnel
Table 3. Hypothetical Outcomes of the Policy Process and its Impact
Table 4. Costs and Benefits of Hypothetical Advocacy Effort
Result (Based on
6,000 Client Episodes)
downturn has raised serious questions about that assumption; it
is possible, after all is said and done, that some economies will
experience deflation.
In all cases, we need to understand the value of our activities
and results. This requires careful record keeping and, in many
cases, cost accounting. Table 2 contains a hypothetical cost
analysis for a small-scale advocacy effort. The campaign lobbied to pass a bill in the state legislature that would raise reimbursement for social work mental health services by 10 dollars
per unit of service:
The potential benefit for the agency is calculated by taking
the total number of service units and multiplying them by the
increase (or decrease) in funding. This total is then compared
with the costs. There are three hypothetical outcomes for the
policy process: the amount increases, the amount decreases,
or the amount stays the same. The first two possibilities are
clearly losses, whereas the third can be a loss or a win
depending on the increase. It is always possible that we will
get a larger increase than we wanted, Table 3 presents those
If we compare the data in Tables 2 and 3, we can see the
relationship between the costs of the advocacy effort and its
potential benefits. Table 4 presents those results:
The first two possibilities involve losses to the agency. The
three other possibilities all involve gains. Part of the calculus
that is not included is the likelihood of success. If it is likely
that we will succeed, the advocacy is a good choice. If it is not
likely, it is clearly a bad choice in this context. Those decisions
are usually political decisions.
Because comparisons are often more complex than what we
have discussed thus far, analytical tools have been created to
ease the process. Among the most commonly used are Return
of Investment (ROI), Cost-Benefit Analysis, and CostEffectiveness Analysis.
ROI looks at the total benefits achieved for the amount of value
invested. It is occasionally referred to as the Rate of Return.
ROI is essentially a calculation based on the rate of increased
value of an investment. In order to calculate a ROI, you first
calculate what an activity actually costs.
A number of articles have appeared (see Rampell, 2009)
advancing the view that the benefit an organization receives
from a law can be compared with its lobbying and campaign
expenditures. The more an organization invests in political
muscle, the better the outcomes it receives. Although this
seems to be straightforward, it presupposes that advocacy was
the cause of the award or benefit. This is a huge leap of faith
and one that makes correlation equivalent to causality.
Rampell (2009) argued that institutions of higher education
received more earmarks as a function of their lobbying efforts.
She used these earmarks to calculate an ROI. Some institutions
did not spend any money on lobbying and were therefore
excluded from her analysis. She concluded that:
By back-of-the-envelope calculations, these universities got a
pretty good return on their lobbying investment. The University
of Alabama, for example, spent $360,000 on lobbying, and
received earmarks totaling $40,550,000. That is a return of
11,163.89%—or $112.64 in earmarks for every dollar spent
on lobbying activities.
This presupposes that there is a causal nexus between lobbying
expenditures and receiving earmarks. Since there are quite a
few schools that did not spend money on lobbying and still
received earmarks, the data itself calls into question the
assumptions of the article. This might be considered a ‘‘free
rider’’ problem (organizations that do not contribute but benefit
just the same; Olsen, 1965), except that earmarks are a specific
benefit, not a general benefit. Given the uncertainty about what
legally ‘‘lobbying’’ is, how well it is connected to the actual
benefits, and the host of possible alternative explanations (such
as a strong center or program), it is difficult to have complete
faith in this analysis.
A better use of ROI is presented by Green and Gerber
(2004), who tied cost data to effectiveness data from experimental studies. This clearly provides a better perspective to
evaluate the economic worth of an intervention. There is evidence of worth, and the results of the cost analysis can be readily compared. In Rampell’s analysis, the effectiveness of the
lobbying effort is only assumed.
ROI might be a better tool in cases where there are intermediate objectives. In place of getting a bill passed, for example, we can evaluate the ROI of getting people to write letters to
their representatives as compared to the number of letters written. This type of effort analysis makes the process straightforward because not outcome is actually assumed and the writing
of letters is an end in itself.
Cost-Effectiveness Analysis
Cost-effectiveness analysis ties costs of an intervention to the
outcomes of two or more potential interventions (see Levin,
1983). For example, if we have two potential interventions with
a known level of effectiveness, we can compare them directly
on the basis of costs. Cost-effectiveness analysis is, in the end,
a measure of efficiency that presupposes effectiveness. Alternatives are assessed based on that metric. This means that the
alternative that most efficiently arrives at a given objective will
be selected based on cost-effectiveness analysis.
For example, in an advocacy campaign, we might be faced
with a choice between direct mail and e-mail to deliver a message. E-mail is considerably cheaper, so if the effect is the
same, e-mail will be selected.
Cost Benefit Analysis
Cost benefit analysis looks at costs and benefits over the life
cycle of a project (see Young & Steinberg, 1995; see also
Handy and Mook in this issue). It is one of the most comprehensive approaches to project selection, and it requires a considerable amount of data and effort.
The analyst begins by projecting the project life cycle and
then determining cost and benefits at each point. There is usually a start-up period in which the project is getting organized.
During this period, the project incurs costs but does not generate benefits. The operational project generates benefits and
eventually reaches the ‘‘break-even point’’ where costs and
benefits are even. The benefits obtained in the later stages of
the project are discounted against the costs incurred earlier in
the project. Finally, a ratio between the total costs and benefits
is created. Sometimes, this process results in a number referred
to as NPV or net present value. Cost benefit analysis is frequently conducted using projections prior to selecting a project.
If costs exceed benefits, the project is usually not implemented.
Cost benefit analysis requires a substantial amount of
resources, but it provides a much clearer picture of the economic
situation of a real or potential project. However, because of the
Research on Social Work Practice 21(4)
difficulties involved in a full analysis, many organizations settle
for one of the other analysis techniques.
Economic analysis offers a substantial toolbox for examining resource issues in advocacy settings. This is a capacity that
can help social work advocates realize their mission and
achieve their ends.
The principle issue for economic analysis of advocacy practice is that we must have evidence that the interventions are
actually effective before any type of examination of the costs
and benefits is possible. Water is cheaper than gasoline, but
most cars will not run on it. The cost differential is thus irrelevant. The same is true for advocacy interventions—if they
do not work, it does not make any difference how much or
how little they cost.
This seems like a simple and self-evident truth. If advocacy
is important to the profession, then it is important that it be
done well. We cannot insist on evidence-based practice in other
areas and not insist upon it for social work advocacy as well.
There are many other fields involved in this sort of practice, but
the literature that goes beyond practice wisdom is still less than
Another reality is that contemporary social work has made
very little use of what economics offers—a substantial body
of knowledge and tools to improve our decisions about
resource issues. If we consider advocacy important and understand the scope of the threats to social and economic justice, we
should want to use the limited resources that we have as well as
At one time, social work and economics were allies. Simon
Patten, an economist and professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance, coined the term ‘‘social
work’’ (Austin, 1986). Many of the early pioneers of the profession had training in economics, including John Commons and
Edith Abbott. Economics is arguably the dominant social science discipline in the policy arena. We cripple our own work
in the policy arena by ignoring the contributions of economists.
It is important for social work to conduct competent,
evidence-based advocacy activities in pursuit of our professional
values and goals. It is also critical to use our advocacy-focused
resources in the most productive way possible.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author declared no conflicts of interest with respect to the authorship and/or publication of this article.
The author received no financial support for the research and/or
authorship of this article.
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Green, D. P., & Gerber, A. S. (2004). Get out the vote: How to
increase voter turnout. Washington, DC: Brookings.
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workers in the political arena (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn &
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internet: Perspectives from community organization and social
policy. Chicago, IL: Lyceum.
Levin, H. M. (1983). Cost-effectiveness: A primer. Beverly Hills, CA:
McNutt, J. G. (2006). Building evidence based advocacy in
cyberspace: A social work imperative for the new millennium.
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non-profit organizations in social welfare policy. Non-profit and
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theory of groups. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Rampell, C. (2009, August 21). Are earmarks for universities
‘pork’? New York Times. Retrieved September 27, 2009, from
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Internet and the overthrow of everything. New York, NY: Reagan
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Young, D., & Steinberg, R. (1995). Economics for nonprofit managers.
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Walden University
SOCW 6361: Social Policy: Analysis and Advocacy
Issue Statement and Identification of a Policy
Immigration into the US remains a serious problem, and the children of these immigrants
face many challenges, including lack of the necessary resources and limited opportunities to
succeed in life. With over 18 million immigrant children in the US, the government has been
unable to provide the necessary resources to these children and their families, leading to high
poverty levels among the immigrants (Thiede & Brooks, 2018). Today, immigrants make up at
least 18% of the US population. However, the poverty rate among immigrant children is 21%
compared to 14% for native-born children (Thiede & Brooks, 2018). This indicates that
immigrant children do not have equal opportunities for development as native-born children.
Most of them live below the poverty level because they lack equal opportunities to school and
develop their careers.
Since this is a widespread problem in the United States, there is a need for the public,
social workers, and policymakers to advocate for change. One reason for this policy change is to
tame the increasing social inequality between native citizens and immigrants. There are policies
of exclusion in the United States that have caused high poverty levels among immigrant families
(Perreira & Pedroza, 2019). Developments for policy change is critical towards universality of
healthcare. Therefore, immigrant children and their families should be accorded equal access to
healthcare, resources and opportunities in life. This equality is vital in healthcare because it
promotes the universality of care.
If the goal to alleviate this problem is realized, the high inequality and social difference
between native-born and immigrant families will be reduced. Children from immigrant families
will no longer be allocated limited resources that cannot help them live a decent life.
Additionally, immigrant children in the US will have equal opportunities for learning and selfdevelopment with non-immigrants. As a result, immigrant children’s status will change from
struggle and discrimination to equal recognition and empowerment in the communities (Perreira
& Pedroza, 2019). Immigrant families will be as important as non-immigrants, and they will
command equal respect in the communities. The exclusion policies will be removed in the
communities to pave the way for equality that will eradicate poverty among immigrant families.
The problem can be solved through policy advocacy. In the State of Florida, some
policies protect the rights of immigrant families. One particular policy in Florida that address this
crisis is the 1996 Work and Gain Economic Self Sufficiency (WAGES) Act. WAGES Act
focuses on making welfare recipients economically stable through employment. Children of
immigrants too benefit from this act as parents become economically empowered and potentially
lifted from poverty. This policy is dictated by the state statute, but its implementation involves
collaboration with the local authorities (Holcomb et al., 1999). The local authorities can plan and
manage integrated workforce development and social-welfare work systems. This policy can be
instrumental in addressing the problem of poverty among immigrant children. Since the children
cannot be directly empowered economically, their parents should be empowered, and the
benefits will trickle down to the children. Therefore, the WAGES Act in Florida can bring
adequate resources and better chances of learning and development for immigrant children. The
different sections and components of this policy include the time limit for cash receipt (a person
can only receive assistance for a maximum of four years), strict rules on participation and
sanctions, and family cap and parental responsibility.
Since the establishment of this policy in 1996, and the average number of AFDC/TANF
families receiving cash assistance in Florida has decreased significantly (Holcomb et al., 1999).
This reduction is an indication the policy has significantly improved and empowered low-income
families economically by reducing reliance on cash assistance through the AFDC/TANF
program. The policy was supported by people who were dissatisfied with the traditional welfare
system under the TANF (temporary assistance for needy families). Therefore, the supporters
argued that the WAGES Act would guarantee disadvantaged families, such as immigrant
families, time-limited assistance and work. However, the policy is opposed by those who feel
that the old AFDC/TANF program was enough to empower low-income families.
The policy has been amended to include new wages for the beneficiaries of the migrant
families. However, it has remained largely intact since 1996, and it has improved the welfare of
many low-income families. Social workers meeting with immigrant children and their family in a
clinical setting, will be obliged to enlighten the clients on the benefits of WAGES Act.
Therefore, this policy is beneficial to clients as the social workers will be obliged to educate and
promote the clients’ economic empowerment as indicated in the policy (Koball et al., 2015).
Since the identified problem is the lack of resources and adequate opportunities for immigrant
children, the policy has addressed the problem. Therefore, I will be forced to advocate for change
because I have to align with the policy, including promoting equal opportunities to all the clients
in my social work practice.
Holcomb, P. A., Kimura F., Marta, P., Carla, H. & Karen, C. (1999) Income Support and Social
Services for Low-Income People in Florida. The Urban Institute.
Koball, H., Capps, R., Perreira, K., Campetella, A., Hooker, S., Pedroza, J. M., … & Huerta, S.
(2015). Health and social service needs of US-citizen children with detained or deported
immigrant parents. Washington, DC: Urban Institute and Migration Policy Institute.
Perreira, K. M., & Pedroza, J. M. (2019). Policies of exclusion: implications for the health of
immigrants and their children. Annual review of public health, 40, 147-166.
Thiede, B. C., & Brooks, M. M. (2018). Child poverty across immigrant generations in the
United States, 1993–2016: Evidence using the official and supplemental poverty
measures. Demographic Research, 39, 1065-1080.
Walden University
SOCW 6361: Social Policy: Analysis and Advocacy
Lack of Resources for immigrant Children
Introduction to the problem and people it impacts
Immigration is one of the most elusive issues in modern-day America. One in every four
or 18 million children in America is immigrants or children of immigrants. America is a
prototypical nation of immigrants as they make up about 18% of the population (Thiede & Brooks,
2018). America has implemented unfavorable policies regarding immigrant children and
immigrants are not treated the same way as the American citizens under the law. As a result,
immigrant children lack adequate resources to meet their everyday needs, resulting in high poverty
rates and poor outcomes among immigrant children. The poverty rate among immigrant children
stands at 21% against 14% among native-born children. More than half of immigrant families have
family incomes that are below 200% of the U.S. poverty levels (Thiede & Brooks, 2018). This is
way below the poverty level among the native children where only 34% of them live below the
poverty level. Therefore, immigrant children face a lot of challenges in the U.S. including a lack
of resources and limited opportunities for achieving personal and career goals.
History of the problem
The issue of illegal immigrants has dodged both Republican and Democrat regimes since
the 1910s. Both regimes have constructed draconian policies of border control, detention, and
deportation intending to address undocumented immigration. In the recent past, the U.S.
authorities have been sending most of the immigrants to the U.S. –Mexico border and Central
American countries such as Guatemala, Honduras, and El-Salvador (Acevedo-Garcia et al., 2021).
Unfortunately, pushing the immigrants to the U.S borders exposes immigrant children to poverty,
inequality, and violence. Further, even immigrant children who benefit from DACA policy still
experience unique social and economic which place them in a disadvantaged position when
compared with children of native-born parents. For instance, the enactment of the 1996 Public
Benefit Policy made it difficult for non-citizen immigrants and immigrant children to access
several benefits such as food stamps, making it difficult for children immigrants to access
resources they needed to survive (Acevedo-Garcia et al., 2021). However, over the years, laws
such as No Child Left Behind (NCLB), McKinney-Vento Act, and Migrant Education Programs
have been implemented to help immigrant children access education and compete favorably with
Ways in which the population has changed over time
In the early 20th century, immigrants to the US were mainly from Europe and Asia. Due to
the existence of discriminatory policies, Asian immigrants faced challenges including limited
opportunities and lack of access to resources such as education. However, towards the mid-1950s,
immigrants from Europe accounted for a smaller number of immigrants to the US. Since the late
1980s, the majority of immigrants coming to the US were from Latin and Central America, and
those affected by limited resources were mainly children of immigrants from this region. For
instance, the number of children immigrants from central and south America increased from 2%
in 1910 to approximately 55% in the 1960s (Levine, 2019). Further, the people affected by the
problem have changed from immigrant families with two families to mainly children living with
single parents. The impact continues to negatively impact minority children preventing them from
accessing resources and assistance they need to pursue their goals. As a result, immigrant children
are likely to experience economic hardships due to the lack of resources they need to pursue their
Ways in which the issue apply to social work
Social workers play a crucial role in ensuring the protection of vulnerable groups and
advocating for the rights of marginalized and vulnerable individuals. The social work profession
is based on values such as justice, integrity, fairness, and protecting human dignity and
relationships. Discriminating immigrant children is incongruent with social work values because
it robs them of their dignity while exposing them to harm. It is against the ethics of social work
for children traumatized by the conditions in their countries to be exposed to further trauma in
America. Lack of resources exposes the immigrant children to further trauma and mental health
issues including post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression (Zhang & Han, 2017).
Social workers are supposed to protect the physical and emotional well-being of children from the
ill-advised border and immigration policies.
Steps in identifying a policy
To identify an appropriate policy, the first step should involve defining the problem
including its causes, prevalence, and individuals affected who are immigrant children in this
case. The cause of the problem includes discrimination or tough property laws or any other
policy that puts immigrants at a disadvantage compared to non-immigrant children. The second
step should involve identifying policies that can be implemented to help address the issue of
immigrant children’s poverty. Such policies include an education policy to address educational
opportunities for immigrant children and allow them to pursue their dream (Zhang & Han, 2017).
The third step should involve identifying alternative policies improving the living conditions of
immigrant children among them creating equal opportunities for immigrant parents. For instance,
immigrant children should be made eligible for, temporary assistance for needy families (TANF)
to enhance their economic situation. The last step should involve selecting the most appropriate
alternative, implementing it, and monitoring the implementation.
Acevedo-Garcia, D., Joshi, P. K., Ruskin, E., Walters, A. N., Sofer, N., & Guevara, C. A.
(2021). Including children in immigrant families in policy approaches to reduce child
poverty. Academic pediatrics, 21(8), S117-S125.
Thiede, B. C., & Brooks, M. M. (2018). Child poverty across immigrant generations in the
United States,
the official
and supplemental poverty
measures. Demographic Research, 39, 40. https://doi.org/10.4054/DemRes.2018.39.40
Levine, M. A. (2019). Immigration and metropolitan revitalization in the United States,
edited by Domenic Vitiello and Thomas J. Sugrue: Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press,
2017. Journal of Urban Affairs, 41(4), 578–580. https://doi.org/10.1080/07352166.2018.1522905
Zhang, L., & Han, W.-J. (2017). Poverty Dynamics and Academic Trajectories of Children
of Immigrants. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(9).

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