Policy analysis

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Policy analysis

  1. 1. 1 Chapter Four Social Policy Analysis: The social worker interested in macro level practice is in a good position to evaluate social policy from the ground up level where social services are provided to consumers as part of the policy implementation phase. Socials work practice requires knowledge of social policy process and analysis. The development of knowledge in policy analysis is an organized method of inquiry and evaluation. The most common tools of policy analysis are needs assessments, cost-benefit analysis, program evaluations including process, out-come and impact assessments and the case study. Social work policy analysis is done in diverse settings, using vey advanced research skills, knowledge bases and information technologies. Social workers are involved in social policy and policy analysis at each step of the policy process. They often see firsthand what services are needed, and they see the intended and unanticipated consequences of existing social policies on their clients. Social workers can influence social policy in their roles as policy experts, researchers, advocates, lobbyists, managers, community organizers, planners, and clinicians. The concern for social workers and others are issues related to social justice and social development at the Macro, Mezzo and Micro levels. Social policy analysis looks for barriers to access of services and gaps in provision of services related to equitability and social justice. Social Exclusion Structural barriers or gaps found in social policy are based on income, race, gender, disability, age, and social class that can limit or block access to services. In effect people are excluded, kept from participating fully in society and the resources needed for a good quality of
  2. 2. 2 life (www.rgu.ac.uk/publicpolicy; retrieved 12/10/2006). Social class is seen as a barrier that usually has an upper, middle and lower class designation assigned according to income levels and wealth. Those in the lower class category are considered the poor and in need of services to meet their basic needs. The middle class or working class may require some assistance in meeting basic needs. The upper class or the wealthy do not require any assistance in meeting their needs. Need develops as a result of being socially excluded or marginalized because of the lack of access to necessary resources. The social service agency view of poverty blames public policies that fail to provide accessible and equitable services to at risk populations. Structural barriers or gaps in policies create need through the implementation of rigid eligibility standards based the requirement to prove need based on income, age, or disability (www.rgu.ac.uk/publicpolicy retrieved 12/10/2007). Social exclusion occurs when you are not part of the networks which support most people in normal life. A person is excluded from participation in social programs based on their age, gender, income, and race. Inclusion in a social network (family, friends, groups, community, and employment) means you have access to support when needed. The poor, ex-prisoners, homeless people, people with AIDS, people with learning disabilities or psychiatric patients are all at risk because they are excluded from social networks. Exclusion limits a person’s ability to participate fully in society and needed services. France implemented benefits and plans based on full social inclusion in an effort to re-integrate the marginalized into society. This policy is the main concept adopted by the European Union and is meant to provide equal opportunities for everyone regardless of standard of living (www.rgu.ac.uk/publicpolicy retrieved 12/10/07).
  3. 3. 3 People living at or below stated income guidelines continue to receive attention from government, NGOs, and religious organizations throughout the world. Social welfare is concerned with protecting the society from recognized conditions such as poverty, poor health, disability, unemployment, natural disasters, war, and illiteracy among others. Social policy is an organized plan of action with the goal of providing social services to those in need (www.rgu.ac.uk/publicpolicy retrieved 12/10/07). Policy analysis is a tool that social workers can use to improve social policies. It is one important way they can make their voices and the voices of their clients heard along with professional opinions. Analysts use their research to advocate and influence policies. They are knowledgeable about the policy environment and usually have quantitative and qualitative methodological skills. People who are involved in influencing and making policy use advice from policy analysts to choose among many possible policy alternatives. The products of policy analysis are among the many factors used to create, influence, stymie, reform, alter, revise, or change policies at all levels of government and in the private sector. Policy analysts usually focus on formal written policies that emanate from government institutions—in short, they focus on public policy. Although many policy arenas, such as industrial or transportation policies, affect social welfare, the focus of this entry is social policy, which itself has broad and flexible borders http://www.uncp.edu/home/marson/348_policy_analysis.html (DiNitto, 1991; Jansson, 1994; Prigmore & Atherton, 1986; Trattner, 1989). Policy analysis has increasingly involved the use of social sciences methodologies to describe and perhaps to prescribe the processes and content of policies (McCall & Weber, 1983). Although policy analysis involves the use of some fundamental social sciences research methodologies, the more technical or quantitative methodologies (that is, multiple regression,
  4. 4. 4 cost–benefit analysis, and trend analysis) require specialized knowledge to understand and use and are rarely covered in the training of most social workers. POLICY ANALYSIS AND SOCIAL POLICY Social policy can be viewed as attempts by government to guarantee some minimum standard of living for citizens in domains such as social insurance, public aid, health and mental health care, education, housing, and personal social services http://www.uncp.edu/home/marson/348_policy_analysis.html (DiNitto; Kahn, 1964; Prigmore & Atherton). Social policies regulate relationships in the three areas of modern life: 1) the government, 2) the economy, and 3) private life. Each of these social institutions is complicated and constantly changing in response to environmental forces. Because the boundaries of these social institutions overlap, some aspects of life fall into more than one environment and always changing. Policies regulate these relationships within and among each environment. In the United States the recent federal parental-leave legislation is a good example. This policy lets parents take time off to care for a new baby in their family. It enhances their ability to balance work (the market) with family (private life) through government intervention (creation, implementation, and eventual evaluation of the legislation). The passage of this legislation was accomplished through extensive policy analysis (http://www.uncp.edu/home/marson/348_policy_analysis.html. Retrieved). Social work is concerned with the regulating function of social policy and how it impacts on quality of life. Polices are analyzed to look for unintended consequences and provide solutions to eliminate the bad outcomes that affect the society. Policy analysis is concerned with the language or text of the written policy. The intent is to analyze the language contained in the
  5. 5. 5 policy focusing on unintended gaps in services or negative outcomes inherent in the policy itself. The goal is to provide a policy brief highlighting the consequences and proposing alternatives that effect quality of life. (http://www.uncp.edu/home/marson/348_policy_analysis.html. Retrieved). METHODS OF POLICY ANALYSIS Policy document analysis uses a set of criteria that reflect the different social, political and economic environments to determine the values or ideologies contained in the text. This is done to see what policies are working, how well they are working and to determine if there is a need for a new policy to better meet needs in a society ( Policy Document Analysis | eHow.comhttp://www.ehow.com/facts_7445102_policy-documentanalysis.html#ixzz1mu5D5Dc0. Retrieved 20/02/2012). Policy analysis starts with assessment of the policy to identify concepts and gaps produced by the language of the policy. The policy is deconstructed and subjected to critical content analysis using grounded theory from which to formulate a research question or theoretical framework to guide the analysis. This first step in policy analysis helps to formulate a clear and precise problem statement complete with a research question, stated goals and objectives to be met. The evaluation criteria is chosen and may include economic costs, net benefits, effectiveness, efficiency, accessibility, equitability and acceptability. This criteria is examined based on the type of measure needed for each goal and/or objective (Policy Document Analysis | eHow.comhttp://www.ehow.com/facts_7445102_policy-documentanalysis.html#ixzz1mu5D5Dc0. Retrieved 20/02/2012). There are many methods of policy analysis used to describe, explain and analyzed social policies and their effectiveness. The following are some of the most common methodologies
  6. 6. 6 used in policy analysis (Policy Document Analysis | eHow.comhttp://www.ehow.com/facts_7445102_policy-documentanalysis.html#ixzz1mu5D5Dc0. Retrieved 20/02/2012). Content Analysis Content analysis facilitates assessment of communications (oral and written) through a systemic, objective and quantifiable manner. It must follow specified procedures starting with 1) developing a research question; 2) selecting a sample (social policy/services), 3) selecting units of analysis (what is to be counted as in concepts) and 4) coding, adding and analyzing the data. This is done to uncover reoccurring themes, concepts and intended and unintended outcomes that are located in language of the policy. This categorizing and coding of text using identified words and placing them in predefined categories (Grinnell &Unrau, 2011). This categorizing of words and themes can then be used to develop theory using an inductive approach advocated by grounded theory. The phrase "grounded theory" refers to theory that is developed inductively from a corpus of data. If done well, this means that the resulting theory at least fits one dataset perfectly. This contrasts with theory derived deductively from grand theory, without the help of data, and which could therefore turn out to fit no data at all (Brogatti, 2013, Grinnell & Unrau, 2011; Babbie, 2002)). Strauss grounded theory approach is based on four steps that when correctly will produce good outcomes. The four stage model includes Stage1 where the goal is to identify key points or concepts. The basic idea of the grounded theory approach is to read (and re-read) a textual database (such as a corpus of field notes) and "discover" or label variables (called categories, concepts and properties) and their interrelationships. The ability to perceive variables and
  7. 7. 7 relationships is termed "theoretical sensitivity" and is affected by a number of things including one's reading of the literature and one's use of techniques designed to enhance sensitivity (Brogatti, 2013). Strauss developed a four step model that when carefully executed will produce a good theory or outcome. The quality of the theory or outcome can be evaluated by the process used to construct the theory. Step one involves ―codes‖ to identify key points of the data to be gathered. Step two involves identifying concepts that are a collection of similar codes to facilitate grouping of data. Step three the data grouping of similar concepts are used to generate theory Step four the collection of the details or clarifications that explain the subject of the research, in this case policy analysis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grounded_theory). In social policy analysis a solid theoretical framework will identify the objectives and the unintended as well as intended outcomes (Babbie, 2002; Grinnell & Unrau, 2011; Brogatti, 2013). This approach will help link historical views, values, ideologies and the consequences in terms of gain and loss in economic and social justice costs. One of the most important and powerful tools of policy analysis is the ability of predicting proposed policy issues or to measure the unintended problems in policy that has been enacted or passed.(Jimenez, J. 2010) Social policy consists of ideologies and values of the society in which they are constructed. The language of social policy is technical and grounded theory/content analysis provides a framework for in depth assessment to uncover both the unstated and stated objectives; link the policy to the values and ideologies; and to estimate the consequences attached to
  8. 8. 8 economic gains and losses including gains and losses related to social justice issues (Jimenez, J. 2010), Needs Assessment Social policies address problems. Policy analysis first conducts an assessment to identify the nature, scope and extent of the problem. The goal is to complete a needs assessment using existing information, social surveys or may conduct a community needs assessment. Depending on the problem, the policy analyst may use all three data sources to construct a more detailed picture of the problem (Policy Document Analysis | eHow.comhttp://www.ehow.com/facts_7445102_policy-documentanalysis.html#ixzz1mu5D5Dc0. Retrieved 20/02/2012). Outcome Studies One can assess the effectiveness of a policy without knowing the policy's cost or the benefits. Outcome studies can document the comparative effectiveness of different policy alternatives. Using conventional quasi-experimental and experimental research designs, policy analysts are able to assess the extent to which some policy intervention has had the intended impact on the social problem it was designed to address. Outcomes can be measured in many different ways, including through the use of psychological and social measures of individuals; the examination of trends in social indicators, such as the poverty thresholds, crime, or mortality rates of a given population or area; or the study of the behavior of groups and organizations. Case Studies Many studies of social policy can be described as case studies or as comparative case studies (Yin, 1993). Case studies involve the systematic and detailed description and analysis of the formation, implementation, and evaluation of specific social policies. Examples include
  9. 9. 9 analyses of the War on Poverty initiative (Moynihan, 1970), federal revenue sharing (Terrell, 1976), comparative efforts of Western nations to care for children and families (Kamerman & Kahn, 1991), and the impact of crime policy on inner-city drug markets (Reuter & MacCoun, 1992). Program Evaluation: Evaluation of services is done by conducting program evaluation studies. These studies are in the form of process, outcome and impact evaluations based on goals and objectives defined in the policy and/or program. Using policy goals and objectives to conduct program evaluation studies are a ground up approach from the perspective of the service user. Program evaluation is conducted in two phases, process and outcome/impact evaluation. The first phase is called process evaluation and is concerned with describing the program operations and client service activities. The focus is on the programs approach to service delivery and management of day-to-day operations (Grinnell R. M & Unrau, Y.A. 2011). Outcome evaluation is conducted to determine the amount and direction of change experienced by the client during or after use of a program’s service. The goal of this type of evaluation is to assess whether the services provided by the program are working. Questions that can be answered by outcome evaluation are 1) program integrity; is the program achieving stated goals and objectives; 2) program effects; are people who received services better off than before; 3) differential effects; equity of results across diverse client populations; 4) causality; is there evidence that the program can claim that it’s services caused the change in clients; and 5) satisfaction; are stakeholders satisfied with program services? (Grinnell R. M & Unrau, Y.A. 2011). Impact evaluation is concerned with long-term effects of the intervention over time.
  10. 10. 10 (http://nonprofitanswerguide.org/faq/evaluation/difference-between-process-outcome-andimpact-evaluations/). Analysis of social policy provides a method for taking a closer look at the social problem, how the problem is identified, and at the intervention. Using the Quality of Life Framework provides a step by step plan for the analysis of social policy from the ground up. The service user is in the best position to describe any issues or concerns with the quality and accessibility of services. Once analysis is completed the next step is to make necessary changes in both policy and/or services. Table Two graphically displays the process. Policy Studies The mixed-method of policy analysis and program evaluation is a systematic study of the nature, causes and outcomes of alternative policies that emphasize determining policies that will achieve the stated goals. Policy studies also analyze the problems and problem solving that are produced by the making of policies in civil society and in the private and public government sector. This method of policy analysis starts with the policy and deconstructs the policy according to the four step model developed by Strauss and in the section on Content Analysis. Once this part if the study is completed then a program evaluation is undertaken to assess services. This textbook advocates a ground up approach using the Quality of Life presented in Chapter Five. Social Policy Analysis Process Analysis of social policy provides a method for taking a closer look at the social problem, how the problem is identified, and the intervention. Using the Quality of Life Framework provides a step by step plan for the analysis of social policy from the ground up. The service user is in the best position to describe any issues or concerns with the quality and accessibility of
  11. 11. 11 services. Once analysis is completed the next step is to make necessary changes in both policy and/or services. Using the Quality of Life model as a framework for policy analysis from the ground up implies that social services will be used as the basis for evaluation. Figure Two Program Evaluation Process Step One Content Analsyis Step Five Step Two Findings Planning Social Services Step Four Step Three Data Analysis Program Evaluation The model displayed in Figure Two represents a continuous process of social services assessment, planning, evaluation, findings, and intervention. Policy analysis is never complete because the analyst has to be aware of the changes in the political environment that may affect policy and especially social services. Each step is continuous which indicates that each step is dependent on the next step in a continuous relationship. Step one starts with content analysis of the policy looking at the goals
  12. 12. 12 and objectives as a first step in identifying a problem in the policy/service environment. This has to do with the assessment and specification of the problem either being in language of the policy and/or located in the service provision process. The social worker is a frontline worker usually helping clients access needed services so is in the best position to identify where the problem is located, usually in the service or ground level. Consumers of services along with the social worker begin planning what type of evaluation will best serve their needs, needs assessment, program evaluation or to conduct content analysis of the way the policy is written. Planning involves application of either or both quantitative and qualitative research methods. The task here is to formulate an evaluative study that will produce the needed information to propose alternative solutions. Once the planning and conceptualization of an evaluation plan is agreed upon Phase Three or the analysis is started. This includes the development of policy statements that specify the goals, objectives and services to be provided. During this phase of planning the following questions need to be addressed. What benefits or services will be provide? The answers to this question will serve as guidelines to design equitable and assessable services to the target population. Who is the target population or recipient of services? Answers will define who is eligible to receive services based on criteria developed during this phase. When are the benefits or services to be provided? Possible answers could be on a continuous basis or only during crisis depending on the goal of the policy. Where are services to be delivered? Services could be delivered in any number of ways and places such as in a private agency, at an NGO, at home, in community centers, or in government agencies. How are benefits or services to be provided? Answers have to do with financing (public or private), specification of service providers (professionals; doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors, paraprofessionals, etc.)
  13. 13. 13 Step Four, the intervention is implemented and the findings used to modify or introduce new policy or services to address the problem. At this phase, the social worker, in collaboration with the community formulate a possible solution to the identified problem. The advocacy phase of social work is called into action in order to get the appropriate officials to meet and discuss their problems and solutions. If they are successful, then the process is completed and equitable and accessible services provided to the community. Referring back to Table One a circular process is displayed indicating that the policy analysis process is never completed. The fact is that it is continuous cycle that keeps social issues and needs in the forefront of community social work practice. Macro level practice is the place where social workers take on the tasks of leadership, educator, policy analyst, community organizer, and advocate. Case In Point: The Arab Gulf has begun to adopt new social policies focused on the negative impact of globalization on the poor. The impact is greater on poor women, unemployed graduates, the uneducated, the elderly, the disabled and on groups that have been affected by the privatization of public projects. Policies focused on these issues are diverse as to goals, target populations and time frames for implementation. There are short term, midterm and long range policy time lines designed to address these problems that impact on quality of life. Short term policies are focused on alleviation of poverty and the deprivation that affects the majority of groups. This approach refers to a social safety net as being the fastest way to provide for the basic needs. The goal is on the process of creating a job market that will employ those with limited skills or abilities. This requires the use of a human capital approach that matches potential employees with a strategy to develop a specialized job market that would
  14. 14. 14 employ them at wage levels that would eliminate the need for social services and government interventions. A midterm intervention needs to be focused on programs designed to increase the skill levels of the unemployed to meet current and future market demands in the Arab states. This strategy requires expanding educational, vocational and training opportunities for citizens of the GCC. Long range goals need to be focused on the elimination of the causes of socioeconomic inequities that are part of globalization. In order to accomplish these goals, social policy must adopt an integrated approach using a developmental strategy that includes economic, institutional and political agendas. Social policies must deal with globalization by implementing a new internal environment within each Arab state. A three-way partnership among the state, the private sector and civil institutions is necessary for success. This approach to social development is in keeping with a bottom up assessment of the policies that set up the welfare state. In keeping with social solidarity, individuals, groups, social institutions and society work cooperatively to improve the overall quality of life. The GCC has as one of its many goals the development of policies focused on education, healthcare, the economy, and the training and employment of a national work force. The first phase of policy analysis starts with a social issue or problem that has been identified. During this phase the social worker/policy analyst evaluates the policy goals and objectives that provide the service or intervention. This is accomplished with the help of the community and the service user who first experiences the problem or issue. The task is to assess the problem; conduct content analysis of the policy; locate the source of the problem (the policy or the services). Content analysis is preformed to discover where the problem is located. The problem could be with the way the policy was written or it could be with the social services
  15. 15. 15 provided. The task here is to locate the source of the problem or issue; the next phase (two) is to develop a plan or research agenda complete with a problem statement that specifies the policy goal, the policy outcome (service) and location of the problem, and methodology to be used. The last phase of Step Two is to develop a Research Question or Hypothesis to test your theory. Step two is started after phase one has specified the problem being with how policy was written and/or in the service provision process. The social worker is a frontline worker usually helping clients access needed services so is in the best position to identify where the problem is located, usually in the service or ground level. Consumers of services along with the social worker begin the assessment process through planning what type of evaluation will best serve their needs, needs assessment, program evaluation or to conduct content analysis of the way the policy is written. Once the planning phase is completed, Step Three is implemented with the implementation of the policy analysis plan. In this phase the specified methodologies are used to find answers to the research question or questions proposed in Step Two. Findings produced by the analysis are used to modify or introduce new policy to address the problem. At this phase, the social worker, in collaboration with the community formulate possible solutions to the identified problems. The advocacy phase of social work is called into action in order to get the appropriate officials to meet and discuss their problems and solutions. If they are successful, then the process is completed and equitable and accessible services provided to the community. Referring back to Figure One a circular process is displayed indicating that the policy analysis process is never complete but ongoing as more issues are identified. The fact is that it is continuous cycle that keeps social issues and needs in the forefront of community social work
  16. 16. 16 practice. Macro level practice is the place where social workers take on the tasks of leadership, educator, policy analyst, community organizer, and advocate. Summary The GCC have begun to adopt new social policies focused on the negative impact of globalization on the society, especially the poor. The impact is greater on poor women, unemployed graduates, the uneducated, the elderly, the disabled and on groups that have been affected by the privatization of public projects. Policies focused on these issues are diverse as to goals, target populations and time frames for implementation. There are short term, midterm and long range policy time lines designed to address these problems that impact on quality of life. Review Questions 1. Define policy analysis 2. Explain the process of content analysis. 3. Explain the use of grounded theory in policy analysis. 4. What is the goal of policy studies? 5. Why is program evaluation a good method to use in policy analysis? 6. Why are social workers in a good position to analyze policy? Glossary of Terms
  17. 17. 17 Content Analysis: facilitates assessment of communications (oral and written) through a systemic, objective and quantifiable manner. Case Studies: involve the systematic and detailed description and analysis of the formation, implementation, and evaluation of specific social policies. Outcome Studies: Outcome studies can document the comparative effectiveness of different policy alternativesby concentrating on the programs implemented. Policy analysis: is a tool that social workers can use to improve social policies. It is one important way they can make their voices and the voices of their clients heard along with professional opinions. Analysts use their research to advocate and influence policies Policy document analysis: uses a set of criteria that reflect the different social, political and economic environments to determine the values or ideologies contained in the text. Policy Studies: mixed-method of policy analysis and program evaluation is a systematic study of the nature, causes and outcomes of alternative policies that emphasize determining policies that will achieve the stated goals. Program Evaluation: of services is done by conducting program evaluation studies. These studies are in the form of process, outcome and impact evaluations based on goals and objectives defined in the policy and/or program. Policy Studies: The mixed-method of policy analysis and program evaluation is a systematic study of the nature, causes and outcomes of alternative policies that emphasize determining policies that will achieve the stated goals. Process evaluation: is concerned with describing the program operations and client service activities. The focus is on the programs approach to service delivery and management of day-today operations
  18. 18. 18 Social Policy Analysis Process: provides a method for taking a closer look at the social problem, how the problem is identified, and the intervention Social policies: regulate relationships in the three areas of modern life: 1) the government, 2) the economy, and 3) private life. Each of these social institutions is complicated and constantly changing in response to environmental forces. Social work: is concerned with the regulating function of social policy and how it impacts on quality of life. Polices are analyzed to look for unintended consequences and provide solutions to eliminate the bad outcomes that affect the society.

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