Overview of Essential Social Policies Meant to Engage, Inspire Students

By Paul R. Pace

43 Essential Policies for Human Services Professionals

43 Essential Policies for Human Services Professionals 

by Gerald V. O'Brien- NASW Press, 2021

A new NASW Press book, for potential use at the BSW and MSW levels, provides thumbnail descriptions of key social welfare problems and policies in the U.S., spanning from the Elizabethan Poor Laws of the 1600s to today’s COVID-19 relief and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Gerald V. O'Brien, PhD, MSW, LSW, assistant professor at the Department of Social Work at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, is the author of 43 Essential Policies for Human Services Professionals. The text was inspired, in part, by Daniel Pollack’s book, “Social Work and the Courts,” O’Brien explains.

“I liked the brief overview of important court decisions that impacted various areas of social work and wondered why a similar book hadn’t been written on social policies,” he said. “I’ve been off-and-on writing and rewriting various chapters for over a decade and using them in my own social work policy courses.”

Each chapter of the book provides a brief description of the social problem, the policy, its effectiveness, and major updates/changes over time. One recurring section, called “Analysis Element,” addresses issues such as unintended consequences, goal development, and target efficiency. In this section, students can apply an analysis component from the chapter to research a different policy. Some of these analysis elements will be specific to a target issue, while others will have broad application.

“I believe the book provides a nice, brief overview of the broad range of policies that impact social workers, and that students will be inspired to engage in ongoing research related to issues they find especially compelling,” O’Brien said. “I would hope that instructors and students review the supplemental questions related to each chapter (the Instructor Appendix) that are available by request through NASW Press, as these provide a number of follow-up areas for research.”

cover of December 2021 / January 2022 magazine

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