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SWK-520 Social Welfare Policy (Lucio 2020): Home

This guide will focus on steps to successfully research a social issue

Course Description

A description of the major components of the social welfare system in the United States. This course includes the historical development and philosophy behind our present social welfare system and uses current social welfare programs as examples. This is a three-credit course designed to focus on the policymaking process within the social welfare system. The primary emphasis of this course is on macrosystems, not microsystems. The course will describe what social policy is and explore the various ideas, philosophies, beliefs, and attitudes that have led to the development of various social welfare programs in the United States. Recognizing the fundamental duty of the social work profession to promote social equity and justice, this course looks at the values, which underlie various policy approaches, and identifies policy shifts rooted in recurring tensions or controversies. Consequences of different policy approaches are examined in light of their impact on racial and ethnic minorities, gay men and lesbians, women, the poor, and persons with mental and/or physical challenges. The student will also look at international policy as a comparison.

Assignment Requirements

Research a Social Issue
[EPAS 2015 Foundation Behaviors 5.1 & 5.2]

This is an individual assignment.  This will focus on your specific aspect of the social issue you identified and look at your interest in a social justice policy issue with significant history, landmark legislation, continued social injustices, advocacy efforts, & success stories.  You will draft a brief paper which incorporates the following:

  1. Definition of Issue or Problem: Summarizes the social issue and provides context to the nature of the problem.
  • What is the issue that is being addressed?
  • Why should others care about this issue?
  • What is the public perception of the issue?
  • What is the nature of the problem?
  • What are the causes of it?
  • What are the risk and protective factors that sustain this issue?
  • Why is this a social justice issue?


  1. Scope & Magnitude: Describes the specific population, level, or issue you are focused on
  • What is the specific population
  • At what level is your focus
  • Within the broad topic you selected is there a specific issue?


  1. Individuals Affected: Describes the population affected by this issue and how this issue contributes to their social injustice
  • Who is affected by the issue?
  • How many people are affected?
  • What do people gain or lose from this issue?
  • How are individuals, families, and society affected?
  • Who is affected by it & how? The analysis will address the people affected by the issue under consideration in terms of age, diversity issues, gender, income, and residency.


  1. Background & History: Addresses the history or evolution of the social welfare system’s response to the population
  • How long has the issue been going on?
  • What has been tried to resolve this issue in the past?
  • How do people feel about the issue?
  • How does the issue link or divide different segments of the community?
  • Who and what influences opponents to take their positions?
  • What political forces are influencing decision-makers?
  • What will it take to gain support?
  • What is the history of the issue in this community?


  1. Resources & Barriers: Describes the factors influencing this social issue that may positively influence change or continued oppression/social injustice
  • What are the resources available for addressing the issue?
  • What are the barriers?
  • What are the resources available for addressing the issue?
  • What are the barriers to addressing this issue?
  • How can they be overcome?
  • What resources will we need to address this issue?
  • Where and how can they be tapped?
  • Who and what influences opponents to take their positions?
  • What economic, social, and political forces are influencing decision-makers?
  • What will it take to gain support?


‚Äč6. Positive and Negative Impacts: Discusses the impact of this problem on the individuals and society.  This can be monetary, lost opportunities, lack of educational opportunities or other “costs”

  • What is the cost to society?
  • What is the cost to treat?
  • What factors contribute to the problem or goal?
  • What are the consequences (e.g., social, economic) of the issue?
  • What are the barriers (political, cultural, etc.) to address the issue?
  • What are the cost savings of treating or addressing?