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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 ?

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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.

Policy Agenda

Review all three phases of building policy agenda by moving the slider between them.

Diagnosing Context

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?

Activate Change

The activating change phase is the last phase of the agenda building model has ten components:

· Timing and windows of opportunity

· Coupling

· Framing and funding a title

· Negotiating and bargaining

· Assembling early sponsors

· Routing

· 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.

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