Social Policy and Policy Practice Group
Volume 6, Issue 2                                                                                                                       Spring 2000

SWPPG and ISP Present Cyberadvocacy forum at Boston College

The Social Welfare Policy and Practice Group, in conjunction with Influencing State Policy, offered an all day forum on cyberadvocacy at Boston College's Graduate School of Social Work in April. The meeting focused on the use of the Internet in policy practice. Meeting organizers John McNutt and Cheryl Caron brought a number of speakers from the academic and practice community to the event including Richard Rowland, Neil Haggarty, Chris Hudson, Kristen Penkaukaus, Robert Castagnola, Deborah Finn and Macie Pitt-Catsouphes. Lunch was provided by the BC Graduate School of Social Work

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New Benefits for Membership

Dues "Sale" for 2000-2001

The steering committee of the Policy and Policy Practice Group met early Sunday morning during the CSWE APM to chart the future of the organization. One of the most important issues dealt with by the was the issue of membership benefits and dues.

The most significant action taken by the committee was to adopt the new Haworth Press publication, the Social Policy Journal (SPJ), as the official journal of the Policy and Policy Practice Group. Due to a special arrangement with the Press, members will receive the SPJ at a discounted price.

Another benefit to be offered to PPPG members is the opportunity to be more actively engaged in shaping the CSWE APM agenda. Up to now, APM symposium chairs and abstract reviewers have been volunteers and people known to the organizers, whether they were dues-paying members of the Policy Practice group or not.. The steering committee decided that members should have first priority in filling these professionally important duties. The same reasoning applies to the Lifetime Achievement Award Selection committee.

Of course, along with increased benefits come increased membership costs. The board voted to raise the dues to $35 per calendar year, once the Social Policy Journal is published, while keeping dues at the current rate of $10 per year for 2000.

In order to encourage members to join for the remainder of the year 2000 and to show Haworth Press that the Journal is truly desired, the steering committee declared a "sale" on membership dues. For people joining before June 30, 2000, membership for the two year period will be only $40.

Send dues to Rick Hoefer, President, Policy and Policy Practice Group, Box 19129, School of Social Work, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX 76019.

Nominations Needed

Nominations are needed for the Policy and Policy Practice Group’s Lifetime Achievement Award to be presented at the 2001 Council for Social Work Education Annual Program Meeting to be held in Dallas, Texas.

Please send nominations to Rick Hoefer (Please send nominations to Rick Hoefer (rhoefer@utarlg.uta.edu) or to Ron Dear (rdear@u.washington.edu)

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Synopsis of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Human Services Advocacy Organizations By Rick Hoefer, Ph.D. rhoefer@utarlg.uta.edu

(The original of this paper is under review.)

Social work has a long and distinguished history of involvement in the political decision-making process. Currently, professional newsletters, e-mail advocacy alert networks and electronic news-lists often carry articles on policy making and ask for readers’ assistance to lobby legislative and executive branch decision-makers.

This summary presents Aspen Institute Nonprofit Sector Research Fund supported research results. A survey examining how groups active in Washington D.C. that are highly effective differ from groups that are less effective. Results from 127 groups show that there are seven ways that more effective interest groups act compared to less effective groups. Implications for practice are then provided. With this information we will have a better understanding of, and, perhaps, a greater ability to impact the policy-making process.

Results

Highly effective groups and those that were least effective had no significant differences between them in terms of the "demographic" variables that were checked. These variables included staff size, percent of staff time spent trying to influence policy, percent of staff time spent trying to influence the executive branch, sources of funds, and membership size and age of the organization. Therefore, we believe that the variation in groups’ effectiveness is likely to be due differences in what the groups do to influence policy.

Differences Between High and Low Effectiveness Level Groups

This section shows that there are seven significant differences in the tactics used by groups that are highly successful and those that are least successful. Three are related to influencing all types of policy and four are related to influencing the regulation-writing process. Highly effective groups self-report to be effective in their advocacy more than 66 percent of the time, while less effective groups self-report effective action less than 33 percent of the time.

Tactics used to influence all types of policy. More highly effective groups consider six of the seven possible tactics more important in influencing all types of policy than do those groups least effective in affecting policy. The lone exception, "demonstrations or protests", is considered more important, on average, for the lowest performing groups compared to the highest performing groups.

The differences in tactic rankings between categories of groups is significant for only three tactics: developing consensus among experts, pursuing issues in court and aiding the election of particular candidates. More effective groups think these tactics are more important. These three tactics are the ones at the bottom of the list of overall ranking of importance in Table 2, and the mean scores show that they are not all that highly important even to the most effective groups.

Tactics used to influence the regulation-writing process. More highly effective groups consider eleven of the twelve possible tactics more important in influencing the regulation-writing process than do those groups least effective in affecting policy. The lone exception, "take changes to proposed regulation to the White House", is considered more important, on average, for the lowest performing groups compared to the highest performing groups.

The four tactics that are significantly different are "bring current regulations to executive branch attention, take changes to proposed regulations to the proposing agency, participate in public hearings and offer drafts of regulation prior to publication in The Federal Register.

Discussion

Groups with high levels of effectiveness are significantly more likely to provide more policy-relevant information (participate in public hearings, develop consensus among experts) and to be more proactive (bring current regulations to executive branch attention, take changes to proposed regulations to agency, offer drafts of regulations prior to publication of proposed regulations, take issues to court, aid the election of particular candidates). They are not significantly different in terms of having better relations with decision-makers nor in making greater use of coalitions.

The key difference seems to be, in many ways, a habit of being proactive. Highly effective groups have ideas and relationships in place before other groups and they thereby have access and the respect of potentially sympathetic decision-makers.

Table 1: Comparing highly effective and less effective groups in their use of tactics to affect all types of policy

 

 

Tactic

Highly Effective

(> 66%)

(n = 33)

Less Effective

(< 33%)

(n = 23)

 

 

P value

Develop consensus among experts

4.64

3.83

.06

Pursue issues in court

2.82

1.96

.06

Aid the election of particular candidates

1.97

1.23

.03

Work with Congress on policy formulation

5.58

5.26

.36

Work with government agency on policy formulation

5.12

4.78

.41

Use the media to influence public opinion

4.55

4.13

.33

Demonstration or protests

1.61

1.91

.38

 

Note: Question reads: "For each of the following activities, please indicate on the scale provided your best estimate of the importance of that activity for this organization." The scale runs from 1, "Not engaged in", to 6 "Most important."

 

Table 2: Comparing highly effective and less effective groups in their use of tactics to affect all types of policy

 

 

Tactic

Highly Effective

(> 66%)

(n = 33)

Less Effective

(< 33%)

(n = 23)

 

 

P value

Develop consensus among experts

4.64

3.83

.06

Pursue issues in court

2.82

1.96

.06

Aid the election of particular candidates

1.97

1.23

.03

Work with Congress on policy formulation

5.58

5.26

.36

Work with government agency on policy formulation

5.12

4.78

.41

Use the media to influence public opinion

4.55

4.13

.33

Demonstration or protests

1.61

1.91

.38

 

Note: Question reads: "For each of the following activities, please indicate on the scale provided your best estimate of the importance of that activity for this organization." The scale runs from 1, "Not engaged in", to 6 "Most important."

Abridged Bibliography

Abramovitz, M. (1993). Should all social work students be educated for social change? Pro. Journal of Social Work Education, 29(1), 6-11.

Albert, R. (1983). Social work advocacy in the regulatory process. Social Casework, 473-481.

Bell W. & Bell, B. (1982). Monitoring the bureaucracy: An extension of legislative lobbying. In Mahaffey, M. Practical politics: Social work and political responsibility. Silver Spring, MD: NASW Press, 118-135.

Dear, R. & Patti, R. (1981). Legislative advocacy: Seven effective tactics. Social Work, 26(4), 289-296.

Domanski, M. D. (1998). Prototypes of social work political participation: An empirical model. Social Work 43(2), 156-167.

Fisher, R. (1995). Political social work. Journal of Social Work Education, 31(2), 194-203.

Fowler, F. J., Jr. (1988). Survey Research Methods. (Newbury Park, CA: Sage).

Haynes K. & Mickelson, J. (1997). Affecting change: Social workers in the political arena (3rd ed.). New York: Longman.

Hoefer, R. (in press). Human services interest groups in four states. Journal of Community Practice.

Hoefer, R. (1995). Human services interest groups: Empowerment through knowledge. Paper presented at the Annual Program Meeting, Council for Social Work Education, March, San Diego, California.

Jansson, B. (1999). Becoming an effective policy advocate: From policy practice to social justice, 3rd ed. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Kerwin, C. 1994. Rulemaking: How government agencies write law and make policy. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly Press.

Mahaffey, M. (1972). Lobbying and social work. Social Work. 17(1), 3-11.

Mahaffey, M. and Hanks, J. eds. (1982). Practical politics: Social work and political responsibility. Silver Spring, MD: National Association of Social Workers.

Patti, R. & Dear, R. (1975). Legislative advocacy: A path to social change. Social Work, 20(2), 108-114.

Rees, S. (1991). Achieving power: Practice and policy in social welfare. North Sydney, Australia: Allen and Unwin.

Ribicoff, A. (1962). Politics and social workers. Social Work. 7(2), 3-6.

Richan, W. (1996). Lobbying for social change, 2nd ed. New York: Haworth.

Salcido, R. & Seck, E. (1992). Political participation among social work chapters. Social Work. 37(6), 563-564.

Smith, V. (1979). How interest groups influence legislators. Social Work, 24(3), 234-239.

Walker, J., Jr. (1991). Mobilizing interest groups in America: Patrons, professions and social movements. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Withorn, A. (1984). Serving the people: Social services and social change. New York: Columbia University Press.

Wolk, J. (1981). Are social workers politically active? Social Work, 25(5), 283-288.

 

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Call for Papers

Social Policy Journal

Founding editor

Richard Hoefer

University of Texas at Arlington

The purpose of the Social Policy Journal, a refereed journal, is to publish the best available manuscripts about social policy, its administration and its teaching. It is intended to be a multi-disciplinary journal.

Topics suitable for the Social Policy Journal include research related to current social policies, policy effects and the administration of policy and programs, historical analyses of social policy, and comparative studies of various policies. Research on the different stages of the policy process—agenda-setting, formulation, adoption, implementation and evaluation—as they relate to social policy are welcome, as are papers on the teaching of social policy. These topics can be approached at local, state, national or international levels. Articles that are conceptual or provide a cogent review of important policy topics are also invited. Preference is given to manuscripts that address theoretical or practice questions rather than those that are purely descriptive.

The editorial board is made up of a distinguished group of social policy educators, writers and innovators, including Bruce Jansson, Diana DiNitto, John McNutt and Robert Schneider.

Submissions should reflect the mission of the Journal and should be in English. Manuscripts should be 18-24 pages in length and include an abstract of 100 words or less. One cover sheet should include name and institutional affiliation. Another cover sheet should have only the manuscript’s title. The references and format of the manuscript should follow the style of the American Psychological Association. Manuscripts will be peer-reviewed. If submitting paper copies, authors should submit four (4) copies to:

Richard Hoefer, Editor
Social Policy Journal
School of Social Work
Box 19129
University of Texas at Arlington
Arlington, TX 76019

Authors may also email manuscripts to: rhoefer@utarlg.uta.edu For further information, call the editor at (817) 272-3947 or email him.

(manuscripts will not be accepted by fax)

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Posting from the President

It is the best of times, it is the worst of time. We have a new journal to call our own, but we will have to pay some more money to receive it. The conference in New York was a success, but it sure was expensive. We attacked some important issues at the Steering Committee meeting during the APM, but the early hour made the number of participants few.

What is the importance of the study and teaching of social policy in a social work education to you? Are you willing to pay a bit to keep policy a vibrant part of the social work curriculum? Can you support the purpose of the Policy and Policy Practice Group?

Purpose of the Policy and Policy Practice Group

The Policy and Policy Practice Group seeks to ensure that social policy is an important component of social work education and research. We believe that policy practice is an important mode of social work practice that all social workers should understand. We do not limit ourselves to any one level of social policy, believing that promoting socially and economically just policy is required at local, state, national and international levels. We uphold the National Association of Social Worker's Code of Ethics. To accomplish our purposes we maintain an active presence at the CSWE Annual Program Meeting, sponsor the Social Policy Journal, work with like-minded organizations and individuals, and conduct other activities to promote this purpose.

If you support this purpose, I call upon you to send in your membership dues. For the low price of $40, you can support the Group for two years of membership and receive the first volume of the Social Policy Journal. Send the dues to me, Rick Hoefer, Box 19129, School of Social Work, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX 76019 and I’ll forward it to the treasurer, John McNutt.

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