Module 2 Building Policy Agenda and Analyzing Policy
QUESTION 1. What are the fundamental differences between the Target population and stakeholders‘ groups as it relates to the Development of Policy ?
Is Either group more important than the other when constructing policy?
Building Policy Agenda NOTES
Social work advocates can build policy agendas within their agencies, communities, and during elections. Agencies providing services to individuals and communities are uniquely qualified to understand the needs of clients and stakeholders. Agency providers are aware of the client’s needs, access to services, funding for said services, and their ability to provide quality services, given their available resources. Agency executives are also aware of the concerns of special interest groups willing to support the agencies mission, as well as those groups who oppose the agencies mission and threaten the sustainability of the agency.
Community activists can provide disturbing information impacting their communities and highlight solutions that they believe will alleviate the problems. Social work advocates can take these issues presented by agencies and advocates to politicians and legislators, who can develop and implement policy to benefit individuals, groups, communities, and society.
Building policy agenda starts with identifying critical stakeholders like agency executives, community activists, and government officials. Even with the help of stakeholders, there will be challenges to building a compelling legislative agenda to develop meaningful policy. Jansson (2018) proposes a three-phase model to help social work practitioners assess potential challenges. Social work practitioners can embark on a three-phased approach to build policy agendas (p. 181):
· Diagnose the context
· Soften and Moderate the context
· Activate Change
These three phases are sequential and must be administered before the decision is made to move forward with proposing legislature. These phases must be enacted as a member of a group or committee. It should not be done lone, as numerous discussions and effective collaboration is the first step to building a quality agenda.
Review all three phases of building policy agenda by moving the slider between them.
The act of diagnosing context is a “listening stage.” (Jansson, 2018, p. 183). During this stage, social work practitioners would collect as much information as possible about the history of existing and emerging problems, as well as solutions, in the form of existing programs and policies. Ideally, the advocate will apply several competency skills (political, analytic, interactional, and value-clarifying) to elicit information and gain awareness on important issues to develop a comprehensive policy agenda.
Can ethical reasoning compromise how information the diagnosis of contextual factors for agenda building?
Soften and Moderate the Context
The softening or moderating phase is task 8- policy assessing of the Eight Task Systems Approach to Policy Making. This phase applies a utilitarian approach, we discussed in week one. This phase is data-driven, research, and solution focused. Likewise, if problems are identified during the diagnosis phase, the advocate, must generate “solution streams” (Jansson, 2018, p. 188) to address the issues. If the problem has no solution streams, then the advocate may have to hold off on pushing forward with building the policy agenda. If there is a viable solution, this is the time for advocates to seek support from stakeholders to gain access to resources and funding to address the issues. This is the time to create a social media campaign to promote awareness for the social issue and the critical elements of the policy agenda.
Is the use of social media ever a disadvantage, rather than a benefit as it relates to the promotion of policy?
The activating change phase is the last phase of the agenda building model has ten components:
· Timing and windows of opportunity
· Framing and funding a title
· Negotiating and bargaining
· Assembling early sponsors
· Media coverage
· Setting key endorsements
· Coalition building
· Building momentum
Timing and windows of opportunity are seizing the moments in time. Timing can be organic, or they can be manufactured through activism. Windows of opportunity occur organically and advocates, special interest groups and politicians capitalize on the moments to advance their agendas.
The rate of school shootings has been rising steadily over the last decade. While the issue of gun violence received sympathy from both political parties, the party in power was reluctant to act, for fear of its constituents, special interest groups, and stakeholders, which were all pro-gun ownership and fiercely opposed to any attempts to create policies to regulate access to guns. On February 14, 2018, a lone gunman, opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon, killing 17 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Parkland, VA students and staff (UPI, 2018a). The student survivors used their grief to galvanize national advocacy groups, special interest groups, and politicians to join them in the promotion of the #Never Again Movement (UPI, 2018a). The movement uses activism and social media to spread awareness about the impact of gun violence and the promotion of gun regulations. The movement also focuses on the electoral system to push for legislative changes to the current policies. While there has not been national gun reform, the movement has led to some state-level policy changes and funding to school program’s focused on safety courses. The Florida legislature passed a bill that banned bump stocks and raising the minimum age to purchase a gun from 18 years old to 21 years and having a three day wait for a background check (UPI, 2018b). Perhaps most notable was the movement’s significant damage to the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) imagine, as well as a few prominent politicians that support the NRA because they receive funding from the NRA (UPI, 2018a, 2018b).
Coupling is the act of bridging the solution and the problem. In the case of the Parkland survivors, the solution is gun reform, and the problem is access to guns. The Florida Governor Rick Scott and other Florida politicians saw the devastation of the massacre of 17 individuals and took quick action, one week after the heinous event.
Framing and Finding Titles is a strategy that legislatures use to market an put a positive spin on proposed policies. Titles like the “Affordable Care Act,” are meant to being “affordable” to the population and “caring” for the population. Negotiating and bargaining are exactly how it sounds. The different key players are agencies executives, communities, stakeholders, and government officials discuss the components of the agenda and come to agreements and agree to disagree on some elements of the policy design.
Assembling early sponsors and supporters is essential for any agenda building activities and goes hand-in-hand with routing and setting key endorsements. The act of routing includes finding a home for the policy agenda to be a success. Could that be in the state legislature or federal? Which party should it go to and which politician will push it forward? Media coverage is yet another critical component. Like the Parkland students who leveraged social media and mass media to promote their movement and political agenda, any successful agenda building advocacy efforts would do the same.
Building coalitions, like the coalitions Parkland students built with other youth gun violence/gun reform activist groups throughout the country, created a widespread movement that galvanized the movement an built the momentum to give the students a national platform to speak to the world.
Are affiliations with coalitions necessary for the successful formulation of a movement?
Policy Analysis, Proposal-Writing, and Presentation Framework
In Chapter 7, Jansson presents a Six-Step Policy Analysis, Proposal-Writing, and Presentation Framework:
· Familiarizing oneself with a social problem and set a goal or goals
· Identify an array of relevant options
· Comparing the relative merits of competing options
· Drafting proposals
· Seeking supporters or funders for specific proposals
· Making key presentations
The framework relies on the competencies and Eight tasks presented in week 1.
Tasks one through Eight require that social workers apply the Four Rationales for advocacy.
Eight Task Systems Approach to Policy Making
Task 1. Deciding what is right or wrong
task 2. navigating policy and Advocacy systems
task 3. Agenda- setting
task 4 problem analyzing
task 5 proposal writing
task 6 policy Enacting
task 7. Policy – implementing
task 8. Policy- assessing
For example, Task why, deciding what is right and wrong uses the ethical rationale, while task 4 problem-analyzing uses analytic rationale. The eight tasks are not sequential steps. Social work advocates can execute these tasks separately or simultaneously, in any order that meets the needs of constructing policy. Tasks 5-7 require political and electoral rationales for advocacy. Task 8, policy assessing is the evaluation of existing policy to generate reform solutions to improve policy.
Step on familiarizing oneself with a social problem and setting goals requires advocates to select an issue based on ethics.
Advocates must select a social issue and target population, which involves the application of an ethical rationale. 0
Then they must apply the use of analytic reasoning, to research the severity of the problem, the existing solutions (theories, conceptual models, empirical evidence), gaps, and limitations. Advocates must apply interactional skills to decide which groups they will partner with to build coalitions. Advocates must pose the question of whether the social issue is politically advantageous or feasible and how the electoral process can be leveraged to advance policy.
Step 3 involves the critical analysis of existing policy. The analysis will include criteria about being value-based, evidence-based, is it a politically pragmatic and what are the implementation considerations. How practical and how feasible are the existing policies?
Step 4 involves the drafting of policy proposals, seek feedback, and make necessary changes.
Step 5 identify and seek the support of relevant groups.
Step 6 Social work advocates present their policy proposals to decision makers, such as government officials in hopes of securing their support to enact the policy.
Relevant research should show the magnitude of the issue. Recent statistics should be utilized to measure the incidence and prevalence of the social issue. Qualitative information detailing expressed needs and testimonials of the client population and expert needs from subject matter experts, special interest groups and government officials
Consider all you have learned in week 1 and week 2. Apply the knowledge of building a policy agenda and analyzing policy to write a problem statement identifying a specific social issue, target population, social service, and existing policies.