Social Policy Blog Post 2, or “Civics: not just a fleet of Hondas.”

Your book identifies 4 stages in policy development:  formulation, legislation, implementation, & evaluation.  Describe each of these levels.  Also, using the Rocha, Poe, & Thomas (2010) article as well as your own ideas, identify 2 specific ways social workers or other concerned citizens could advocate at each of these levels.  You can use the same method twice, if you are specific as to how the activities would vary.

We are eighteen days in to a new administration, and I already feel like I can jam these four stages of policy development into one: EXECUTIVE ORDER. Implement, implement, implement. Who cares what the House, Senate, and Supreme Court think about things? And the general public? What are those?? I’m just guessing, but I don’t think our current President passed his high school civics class. Or even knows what civics is…’s not a model of Honda.

Clearly I was exhausted when I started writing this blog, but I’m more rested. My snark will be more intelligent…or I could shut up and answer the question.

Formulation. Policy is formed these days largely through staffers and think tanks. According to this book, legislators are more concerned with getting reelected than with actually doing anything beneficial. They used to tap into resources like universities to inform their processes. Now think tanks have taken that place. So, basically, while our reps are formulating their reelection campaigns, their staffers are working with think tanks (and hopefully listening to what their districts want!) to write policies that reflect the desires of the reps. On this level, I could (1) meet my legislators and let them know about issues that effect the communities with whom I work and what their needs are. I could also (2) talk with leaders in my community and ask about what they’d like to see change, happen, come into the area, etc and empower them to advocate for themselves.

Legislation. OK. I figured it out. These writers were mistreated staffers. In other news (like, being on task), legislators do their legislating through committees and subcommittees based on what they’re interested in. Representatives from special interest groups as well as lobbyists make their wishes known through public hearings in front of these committees. If a representative takes a bunch of money from a particular donor, chances are he/she is going to try to write and pass legislation that benefits the interested party. This is the definition of cronyism (my two cents, not the book). I honestly don’t know what to do at this level because this is the level that frustrates me. If you don’t have money, you have no say. This was made apparent to me when I saw the names of several major corporations (mostly oil) stamped around the rotunda of the state capitol. Oklahoma government. Sponsored by Haliburton. I might try to (1) influence a political action committee to get my views and the views of my community heard and (2) again, meet with my legislators. The OK Legislative Primer is a great resource for knowing what’s on the floor and what to really push for or against.

Implementation. This section was a bit tricky and something I’d not thought of. Just because something passes doesn’t mean it will be implemented. If the money and interest aren’t there to run the program or enact the policy, then the government will just, essentially, bleed it dry, reallocating the funds and exacerbating the problem. Something similar that happened on the ballot last year were questions 780 and 781, decriminalizing class 1 and 2 misdemeanors and using funds saved in the prison system to provide rehabilitation to the prisoners. The public voted for these things, and the OK government retracted them…..what???? I don’t get that at all. It’s as if we’re being told that we don’t know what we’re talking about. But, just because something was voted for doesn’t mean it’s gonna happen. I think we (1) need to be prepared to step in and meet the need, like a staffing need, should this arise. Defunding might be less likely if a grassroots organization or nonprofit were ready to take on the task of running the program, whatever that program might be. In the case of 780 and 781, we gotta (2) meet with those reps! Call those reps! Letters! Why are we SO PROUD of ourselves for having so many nonviolent offenders in prison? When my dog pees on the carpet, I don’t crate her for TEN YEARS.

Evaluation. This a good practice in theory. These policies and programs should be evaluated for effectiveness and to reduce instances of bad practices. Even good things can go bad if put in the wrong hands. Oftentimes, however, these checks and balances are put in place, not to find areas of improvement, but to figure out what the government can pull the plug on. I hate that because everything, no matter how useful, will go through phases where its usefulness is less than stellar. This causes a lot of reps to try to have these valuable welfare programs defunded. I say we (1) ask for reforms instead of revocations for things we know to be valuable to the vulnerable populations we serve and (2) strive for truth in reporting when documenting the use of these programs. Having accurate statistics helps find strengths and weaknesses. Further, coming up with a swift plan of action for course correction should a threat of defunding occur is vital to the success of a program.

One thing I learned at the day at the capitol is this: the government is NOT a savior. In many cases, it will be a hindrance to the things we want to accomplish. We have to work together, person to person, to develop sincere relationships that will serve us in the long run. These relationships can be with our state and local legislators as well as community leaders, church leaders, nonprofit directors, etc. Now, more than ever, we CANNOT rely on the government to look out for the people we serve. That’s our job.

Generalist Practice Blog Post 2: Challenge and positive impact in Allentown, PA

Choosing one of these three communities from your readings (Allentown, PA [Morse], post-Katrina New Orleans evacuees [Cortes], or Harmony Elementary in CA [Cortes]), describe one way the community was challenged as cited by the text and two ways the struggle positively impacted its growth.

Good morning!

I’m blogging from home instead of my classroom because I have a kiddo who has finally succumbed to the crud, whatever it might be. His chubby cheeks are flushed with fever, but he seems content to lie on the couch beside me and watch PBS Kids this morning.

Let’s talk about the community of Allentown, PA today and their struggle for relevance and viability.

Post-World War 2 Rust Belt was drastically impacted when the U.S. decided it just didn’t need as much steel as it had been using. We saw the steady decline over the decades and then the sharp drop-off during the Great Recession of 2007-2009 when the U.S. government had to bail out the Detroit auto industry. Detroit still hasn’t recovered, but they’re working on it. That’s another commentary for another time.

Few Rust Belt communities were spared this setback, but how they handled it is the topic of this post. The text contrasts Allentown, PA and Youngstown, OH.

When faced with this financial setback of declining demand in the steel industry, Allentown was set up respond positively to the changes. Lehigh University, local businesses, non-profits, and local government were all set up with overlaps to help with a positive response and an actual tightening of the community knitwork. Local communications companies were regularly updating themselves  to stay technologically relevant in the wake of a major change. Because of the overlaps in place, these changes that became necessary were feasible.

The community had been purposefully diversified to maintain a wealth of knowledge coming from several areas. When push came to shove, they were all able to come together and form their own think tank to tackle the problems. They supported one another, learned from one another, and used their collective intelligence to overcome the issues that came with the decline in their livelihood.

Youngstown, on the other hand, fought with their government. They pushed back against new ideas, businesses, and companies that might want to come in and revive the area. They suffered as a result.

I know a LOT of people from Youngstown. I lived near Boulder County, Colorado for six years, and there was a pocket of folks from Y-Town who worked with my non-profit. It was apparent to me that they had suffered in some capacity. They were all edgy, vulgar, and had a desperate air about them. I loved them because they were so raw and real as people. Reading about the issues in Youngstown clarifies for me the issues they faced as a community at large. They were fleeing a collapsing infrastructure. Interesting read.


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.