Policy BP8: Let’s do drugs!

How has U.S. federal drug and mental health policy positively and negatively affected mental health and substance abuse in the U.S.?  Use at least 2 policies for each (mental health and substance abuse) to defend your answer.

Happy Monday! What a perfect blog post for this part of the semester. I will only speak for myself, but I am in a place where my mental health is suffering. I can probably speak for everyone actually…

Good Stuff

  • NAMH came out of mental health reform. It provides social support and treatment for the mentally ill. They provided protections for those who were targeted by supporters of the eugenics movement.
  • The Mental Health Act of 1946 established the National Institute of Mental Health. This examined the mental health needs of the country. NIMH then released Action for Mental Health that modernized US psychiatric care.
  • The National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI) accepts philanthropy from drug companies and helped with further destigmatization.

Bad Stuff

  • Although deinstitutionalization is a good thing, helping to destigmatize mental health, now there are many mental health patients that are “adrift”, as the book states. This leads to chronic hospitalization and homelessness.
  • Psychotropic meds are now more routine than ever. Heck, I’m on anxiety meds! Meds that should be used within the controlled environment of a hospital are being prescribed to outpatients. The side effects of these drugs make it difficult for someone not in an inpatient facility to function.
  • NAMI takes money from drug companies. I can’t see how this is going to always be a good thing. HINT: special interests.

Overall, the destigmatization of mental illness and the use of drugs to treat mental illness is a very good thing.

Generalist Practice BP 8: Community Group Leadership

 

    Referring to Brueggeman’s article, what are 3 ways that social workers build community in groups through their leadership? Please explain your answers and give 2 concrete examples of how you have seen these elements accomplished in your own group experiences.

We’re back from Spring Break! This week has had a slow start, and I’m already looking forward to the summer. The quicker we can get done, the quicker we can get to graduation next Spring, right??

How do social workers build community in groups through their leadership?

  1. Gather People Together-as social workers, especially those in a macro environment, we have opportunities to gather people together for a multitude of reasons. Mobilizing community groups for a common purpose gives those groups a sense of belonging and power. In my practicum, I bring groups of kids together for several purposes. One is a group of 4th grade girls that meet to talk about bullying. They talk about their experiences and how to be better friends. Another time I’m able to gather a group is in the larger classroom setting. We talk about social skills, and the children learn how to navigate through the school appropriately.
  2. Express Feelings-social workers have the unique opportunity to motivate others to talk about their feelings. It is our job to create a safe environment for this to happen. In my personal experience, I have attended 12-step groups where the participants were encouraged but not obligated to share their feelings and experiences. One primary motivating factor was the promise of confidentiality in these groups. As a group leader in a school setting, I use open-ended questions and talk about my own experiences to motivate young group members to disclose their own feelings. This encourages the members and shows them they are not alone, and there is a trusted adult who has been through what they might be going through.
  3. Build Confidence-by building trust and showing group members that they are not alone in this world, a social worker can help those group members build confidence. Once confidence is built and maintained, those group members can begin to exact change in their own lives should they choose to do so. With children, confidence-building begins with teaching them a skill set. I led a group of children with anxiety issues, and through a structure curriculum, I was able to teach them tools for coping with their anxiety. Does this work all the time? No. But they feel better knowing they have the right tools to help themselves when they can. As a student in a cohort, it comforts me and gives me confidence knowing that we are all able to help one another. We use social media to disseminate information to each other, and this builds confidence within the group.

Brueggmann, W. G. (2006). In The practice of macro social work. Chapter 4

Social Policy BP 7: Medicaid and Medicare

Describe Medicaid & Medicare, including how they are administered, who they cover, eligibility, and efforts to cut costs in each program.

Can we talk for a moment about how grad students don’t get a Spring Break? Because we don’t. I went to Colorado for a few days with my son, and I had serious guilt about it. I knew everyone else in the cohort was slaving away on their little laptops, writing papers and other things for all the classes and everything that is due (and STILL managed to all be due at the same time).

That has nothing to do with Medicaid and Medicare. I just needed a moment to vent. Venting done.

I made this little chart that quickly touches on Medicaid and Medicare. One thing I found terribly interesting in the reading is that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) was created in part as a stop-gap to keep Medicare from going belly-up! It does appear that, unless the Boomers start actively dying, it will go belly-up sooner than later. And, now that it seems ACA has been chopped with no effective replacement (yet), we can say bye-bye to Medicare very, very soon. But let’s not think about that. Let’s look a my handy-dandy chart instead!

Medicaid

 

Medicare

 

Description

 

Largest public assistance program in the US. Medical coverage and who is covered is determined by the state under broad federal guidelines. Covers: inpatient and outpatient hospital services, prenatal and 60 days postpartum care, vaccines for kids, doctor services, nursing facilities for 21 and over, family planning, rural clinic services, and many other services. 2nd largest social insurance program in the US behind Social Security. Largest public payer of healthcare. Designed to help the elderly with prepaid hospital and optional medical insurance. Part A: Hospital Insurance. Part B: Supplemental Medical Insurance. Part C: Medicare Advantage Program. Part D: Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003.
How is it administered?

 

Administered through the state. Eligibility varies state-by-state. Administered by the US government. Premiums for Part A are derived from payroll taxes.
Who is covered?

 

Limited and low-income families with children who meet certain requirements. Supplemental Security Income recipients. Infants born to Medicaid-eligible women and through the first year of life. Poor children under 19. Foster and adoption assisted families and children. Other “needy” groups as determined by the state. Part A is provided free for persons 65 or older who are eligible for SS or Railroad Retirement benefits. Other parts of Medicare are available for a premium.
Eligibility

 

Each state has its own guidelines regarding who is eligible. This can cause wide variety among states. A person might be eligible in one state but not in another state, depending on that state’s guidelines. Must be 65 or over and eligible for SS or RR benefits. Part B available to US citizens and approved legal aliens.
Cost cutting measures

 

Many states require that patients on Medicaid also enroll in state-contracted HMOs. Medicare doesn’t cover everything, and there is a 3rd-party “Medigap” insurance available at a premium for things that Medicare doesn’t cover. The Affordable Care Act was also a cost-cutting measure that was projected to keep the Part A trust from going bankrupt until 2029.

Yay! You made it to the bottom of the chart. You are rewarded with a picture of one of my red tulips.

Jill

Generalist Practice PB7: Greenville-Spartanburg, SC

As evidenced in the text, what are three ways that the leadership of Greenville-Spartanburg, SC “re-invent[ed] their future” through global partnership?

Global partnership is a tricky subject. I don’t know many people who wouldn’t push for a strong local economy but NOT at the expense of the local product. However, if Greenville had pushed for this it could have spelled certain death for this community. Globalization was imminent, so Greenville embraced it and have had this aura of inclusion and globalization since the 50s. Here is what the leadership did:

  1. Milliken and Tukey, local business leaders, both worked to transform the Upstate South Carolina area to make it appealing to foreign business investors. They did this by exploiting the pro-business attitude of the area and pushing its well-known worker training programs.
  2. They went overseas to encourage foreign investors to come to Greenville-Spartanburg and put down roots, thus making a personal investment in the area and bringing their businesses with them.
  3. They pushed for business incentives and legal amendments to further encourage foreign businesses to plant themselves in the market in Upstate.

Thinking of a community with which you are familiar (feel free to use OKC or Pittsburgh from the text), how did that community diversify and restructure their future? Give 2 concrete examples.

  1. This process began over 60 years ago for this community, and it took the insight of two skilled businesspeople to clear the way for the globalization that has happened in Upstate. Now the area is filled with international restaurants, stores, multicultural events, and schools.
  2. Because of the push for business incentives and amendments as well as the strong worker training programs, international businesses are still flocking to the area. The workforce is skilled and flexible, the geographic location is ideal, and the area has spent 60 years cultivating an inclusive and culturally sensitive environment in which these businesses and people thrive.

Although I did not grow up in the OKC metro area, I can still see the results of global inclusivity that has happened in the area. I do recall visiting OKC as a teen and seeing how little there was here. Now the area is booming with shops, restaurants, night life, businesses, and cultural centers like the Civic Center. OKC has a strong sense of historic preservation as well, as there are memorials and museums all up and down the I-35 corridor and into the small communities. I am amazed at the volume of festivals scattered throughout the state and the amount of participants that are drawn to them each year. Oklahoma City’s globalization and preservation efforts have benefitted, not only OKC metro, but I believe the state as a whole.

Morse, S. (2014). Smart communities: How citizens and local leaders can use strategic thinking to build a brighter future (2nd edition). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

BP6: AFDC vs. TANF: the grudge match

Explain AFDC & TANF.  Discuss the ideological and political changes surrounding the switch from AFDC to TANF. Describe the differences & similarities between the two programs.  

These blog posts have been eerily on-target with whatever is going on in my life at the time.

I have a friend who experiences pretty intense instability in every area of her life. Yesterday I was helping her move out of her house because she was being evicted. After months of struggle and food insecurity, she finally filed for SNAP and TANF. I felt good that I was able to explain some of the benefits of it to her and also comfort her with the knowledge that, as a taxpayer, she’s already paid for these services. Now she gets to use them.

I’m a big proponent of working smarter, not harder (although I do work hard). I found this super nifty chart that lays out many of the similarities and differences in AFDC and TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families).

A major ideological difference in AFDC and TANF is the idea that people were “living off the system”, since there were no limits on how long a person could be on assistance. TANF is a five-year limit. Another difference is the idea that children had to be deprived of support by one parent because of death, separation, divorce, or desertion.

I can see the perspective of those who feel that people “live off” welfare and do not support government support. Those people are likely recalling AFDC, however, and are uneducated on how TANF works. Check out the chart.

I pulled this from www.advocatesforyouth.org.

 

AFDC/EA/JOBS
(before 1997)

TANF
(after 1997)

Federal Funding
  • Unlimited for AFDC and EA
  • Capped entitlement for JOBS
  • Federal share of AFDC and JOBS costs varied inversely with state per capita income
  • Fixed grant
  • Plus: (1) contingency fund and loans for states with high population growth and low welfare spending; (2) welfare-to-work grants (through FY 2003); and (3) bonuses to states that reduce the number of out-of-wedlock births and abortions
State Funding
  • Matching required for each federal dollar
  • States must spend 75 percent of “historic” level (100 percent for contingency funds) and must provide matching for contingency funds
Categories Eligibility
  • Children with one parent or with an incapacitated or unemployed second parent
  • Set by state
Income Limits
  • Set by state
  • Set by state
Benefit Levels
  • Set by state
  • Set by state
Entitlement
  • States required to aid all families eligible under state income standards
  • TANF expressly denies entitlement to some individuals
Work Requirement
  • JOBS Program had participation requirements, but not work requirements
  • By 2002, states must have 50 percent of their caseload in specified work activities
Exemptions from Work Requirement
  • Parents (chiefly mothers) with a child under age three (under age one at state option)
  • None, but states may exempt single parents caring for children under age 1
Work Trigger
  • None
  • Work (as defined by the state) required after a maximum of two years of benefits
Time Limit for Benefits
  • None
  • Five-year time limit (20 percent hardship exceptions allowed)

Generalist Practice Blog Post 6: Building a Leadership Plaza

Part 1: Please share what 2 changes/additions you made to your website (note if they were peer suggested or your own ideas) and explain your reasoning behind it.

Shelby suggested that I add a pictures, add and About Me section, and delete my test “This is a Test” blog. I did all these things. I added one picture of myself at the end of my About me section. I also added an archive to my sidebar as well as a calendar. I think these changes add personality to my blog. I think they also make my blog a little more user friendly and fun for people to navigate. I’m having fun with this and look forward to making some more changes as the semester goes on.

I also added a Tags and a Categories section to increase ease of navigation.

 

Part 2: Using citations and key points from the Morse Chapter 7 (“Growing New Leaders”) text, explain 3 important elements of building a “leadership plaza.”

According to the text, a leadership plaza is “open, inviting opportunities to put the whole community to work for the community. (Morse, 2014, pp. 166)”

I think the first significant piece of building a leadership plaza is in the leaders that are elected. A good example is from Mayor Joe Riley of Charleston, SC and his commitments to his community (Morse, 2014, pp. 156-157)

  • Open government for everyone, so everyone feels they can participate.
  • Historic preservation, so we can learn from the past and keep those things protected.
  • Strategic, long-term planning and follow-through for the future to keep the community constantly revitalized.

Building a leadership plaza also includes protection of the children in that community. In Harlem in NYC, Geoffrey Canada developed the Harlem Children’s Zone to provide a safety net that would offer support for the kids that live within a 100 block range in Harlem. They offered social, educational, and health support for these kids (Morse, 2014, pp. 158).

Finally, good leaders working within that leadership plaza are looking to the future. Programs like Kansas Health Foundation (Morse, 2014, pp. 162) and Horizons (Morse, 2014, pp. 163) are looking long-term when solving issues like poverty and health. They understand that “wicked” problems can’t be solved in six months. Most can’t even be solved within a year. They create long-term projections and are willing to stick to them and see them through, even during the times when it appears that nothing is happening. It’s hard when we live in a society that is obsessed with instant gratification.

It’s good to read about how these communities have set themselves up for a good future, but it is still a bit frustrating to think of how long one must wait to see the fruits of their labor. But that’s what good leaders do.

Morse, S. (2014). Smart communities: How citizens and local leaders can use

       strategic thinking to build a brighter future (2nd edition). San Francisco:

Jossey-Bass.

Policy Blog Post 5: “Can’t we all just get along?”

Explain the role the voluntary and private sector have in social welfare.  Describe at least 2 benefits and 2 concerns relating to the voluntary sector and/or the private sector in general.

“You cannot feed the hungry on statistics.”-David Lloyd George

I’m coming from a lively discussion in HBSE2, and I’m kind of reeling from it. We watched the documentary A Place at the Table which highlights some of the voluntary sector with regards to the increase in hunger across our country and closing the gap of hunger. I started the discussion by saying that I wanted to reduce my lip service and start actually helping out. I want to begin meeting needs instead of just talking about it. There was far more on the minds of my cohorts.

The conversation devolved into a bit of mud slinging. I think others would disagree with me, but I felt extremely uncomfortable. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but to say that people who make more money than “the rest of us” are somehow morally inferior?? Really? It’s morally inferior to make $250k a year. Really? How can someone make that kind of generalization without knowing the heart of the person they are talking about? I don’t know what that person is doing with their funds. I don’t know what kind of situation they came from. I don’t know if they are donating to charities on a regular basis. I don’t know if they have medical bills, other family issues, etc. I won’t make those kinds of comments. Even more important to the kind of work I want to do is this: I won’t make those comments because, eventually, I might ask for donations from these people, and the last thing I want to do is piss someone off because they got wind of a comment I made in a class I took in grad school about how I think that I’m morally superior because I care about social justice and make a pittance compared to them. But I digress…except this isn’t a digression!! This dovetails right into the blog post.

The voluntary sector relies on charity! Many of the grants that are applied for are funded through the trust of a rich dead person. Faith-based services are funded through the donations given by their congregants. Ideally, a person who is making a lot of money will be giving a lot to their church or charity of choice. Until the government closes the gap and gets on board with taking care of the people of this country, we need those voluntary and private sector donors to meet the needs of hurting people.

Another poignant thing that came up in conversation was this: are these charities enabling people to stay unemployed and in the system? Maybe yes. But the system is fatally flawed, is it not? The poverty line is so low and the threshold for receiving services is so low that, in order to qualify and meet the needs of yourself and your family, some folks are opting to only work part time. Full-time work is honorable, but what do you do when all your assistance is quickly cut? There is no opportunity for transition for these people who are struggling to get on their feet and then stay there.

This is where the idea of privatization might come in. Many people think that private sector charities and philanthropy are far more efficient than public welfare systems. The private sector can meet the needs of people without all the red tape of bureaucracy. However, private entities function without any government regulation (not a horrible thing), and therefore are more apt to discriminate against certain people or ethnic groups (a horrible thing).

So what’s the fix? I’m detail oriented, not big-picture. Micro. I want to go out and, one at a time, help the people that I come across. I’m not willing to get into a shouting match with my cohorts about how the system is broken but not do a damn thing about it. What are we going to do, people, besides yell at each other??

If you need me, I’ll be at Food and Shelter.

Generalist Practice Blog Post 5: Preserving the Past in LoDo

Two-part Blog Post:

Part 1: On your blog, name 3 changes you recommend for your peers’ website.

I paired with Shelby Reeves and looked at her website. I would add or change the following:

Add an “About” section. A prospective employer would want more information about her from this section.

I would change the color scheme. The pink is a little sugary.

Add a picture or two for some more visual interest.

I like that her blogs are archived by month. I need to figure out how to do that with mine.

Part 2: Name a town from Morse Chapter 6 “Preserving the Past” and write about the problem faced by the town and two ways they successfully preserved their past. Cite aspects of importance from supportive text/articles.

I LOVE that Denver is included in this chapter! I lived for almost six years in Broomfield, Colorado, which is part of Denver metro and have spent many a fun night in Lower Downtown (LoDo for short).

As with most of the country, Denver was hit hard during the Recession in the 80s. Unemployment was high, and businesses were vacating Denver at an alarming rate. Office buildings were at a 31% vacancy rate. Mayor Pena was looking for a way to revitalize the town and bring activity back to the city and preserve the history. During this time, historic buildings were being torn down and the land used for parking lots. A group of eight preservationists met at breakfast and were concerned that this was happening and fought to preserve the history of Denver.

This group proposed building a civic center in LoDo in exchange for stricter controls of what could be demolished to protect the historic buildings. When the group was challenged as being too small to take on such a large task, they joined forces with the Mayor and became a 28-person task force to take on the demolition companies and preserve the historic buildings.

It took two decades to complete, but now LoDo is thriving. The Chamber of Commerce has since moved to LoDo, there is a baseball team, and there are clubs, restaurants, shops, and high-end apartments throughout the area. Breckenridge Brewery is also there, which is a personal favorite.

Denver boasts that it was one of the first cities to recover from the Great Recession of 2007-2009. I don’t know about this, but I was living there at the time. They seemed to recover quickly, and I wonder if it is because they employed some of the same techniques that they used in the 80s. They also legalized marijuana during this time, but that is another conversation for another day.

Morse, S. (2014). Smart communities: How citizens and local leaders can use strategic thinking to build a brighter future (2nd edition). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Social Policy Blog Post 4: “Who’s poor?”

Discuss at least 2 ways poverty and unemployment are measured as well as how these measures affect pictures of poverty or unemployment.  [For example, would the poverty threshold or poverty guidelines measure higher?  How might this affect legislation regarding poverty.]

*Clarification – for 2 ways to measure unemployment, how does the federal government measure unemployment?  Who might this leave out that it should include?

Let’s start this off by saying I am poor. I Uber for income and sometimes make money singing, but I do not have a steady job. I am a student. I have ungodly amounts of debt. I am poor.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about what the government thinks.

According to the text, the two ways of measuring poverty are poverty threshold and poverty guideline. The poverty threshold is more commonly known as the poverty line. Threshold tends to be higher than guideline. Threshold is used strictly for statistical purposes, while guideline is used to determine whether or not someone is eligible for federal programs like TANF and SNAP.

In my personal experience, neither one of these things takes into account debt-to-income ratio. I was divorced and co-parenting my son with minimal child support and no alimony. I was working full time and making money at a rate above the poverty line, so I didn’t qualify for any federal aid. If I’d dropped a day at work, I would have qualified! These levels of poverty exclude the working poor. Those who are trying to pay off debt, working full time, and make too much money to qualify for the things they need.

Unemployment is measureable. Anyone who doesn’t have a job is unemployed. Underemployment is not as measurable. It can mean those who are working below their skill set or education level. It can also mean those who want to work more hours than they are working.

Regarding employment, in the US a loss of a job might trigger short-term poverty. Then there is the idea of structural unemployment. Structural unemployment occurs when there are changes in the way things are done, like technological advancements in certain labor and factory jobs. These advancements create unemployment for some because the workers’ skill sets are limited.

I’ve been underemployed almost my entire working life. I’ve been college educated since 2001 and obtained my first masters degree in 2006. I’ve worked entry-level positions in non-profits. I tried to get promoted but didn’t have the “right” education. (I have a master of music.) This was during those years when I was struggling as a single parent. I understand that feeling of not being able to get ahead or even catch up because it feels like the system is set up to defeat you.

 

Generalist Practice 2 Blog Post 4: Community Studies

Referencing the Hardcastle article, please explain the 4 types of community studies (field work study, community power structure study, community analysis study, and problems and services study), using 2-3 sentences to describe each one.

I’m going to try to tie each one of these studies to the city of Norman in some way.

Field Work Study: This is a holistic-type study that works over time, is informal, and works through interviews and observations of a particular community. Ideally, a researcher would be able to get the working history of a community through these observations and interviews. There is also face-to-face work with members of the community called “informants.” Someone coming into Norman to do one of these studies would be in contact with families who have been here, say, 40 years or longer, founders of local businesses (Republic Bank, for instance), leaders of churches like McFarland, and members of the Norman Public School board. Their collective stories would give an overview of life in Norman.

Community Power Structure Study: This type of study uses interviews, surveys, and library investigation studies to determine who has the power and exerts influence in a community. They are by definition designed to determine where the power structure lies in a community. A list of names of who in a community has power usually arises out of this type of study. In Norman, I believe the power structure would indicate strong leadership coming from the mayor, the city council, local business owners and operators, pastors of large churches, and leadership from the University (like David Boren).

Community Analysis Study: This type of study seems to be highly quantitative. This involves analysis based on who the leaders are in a community and where they see the community heading in the future. There is an analysis of factual documents that help researchers and community leaders support and respond to the needs of a the community in a certain way. In Norman, this would involve a look at historical documents, budget documents provided by the city council and the NPS board, as well as other pertinent quantitative information.

Problems and Services Study: This type of study looks into the specific problems in a community and what services are available in that community that can address the problem. Doing these types of studies helps show researchers and community leaders where the big needs are in a community and would help inform a search for services to meet those needs. If something needs to be brought in to meet a need, this is where they would start. Norman’s east side could be studied regarding problems and services. My practicum is at Kennedy, and a problems and services study might show that there are a lot of families at or below the poverty line. Fortunately, most of the social service outlets in Norman are on the east side and are more easily accessible to those with limited transportation and resources.