Social welfare includes healthcare, empowerment, housing and other programs geared towards assisting the poor, unemployed and marginalized in society. Such programs include Medicaid, AFDC (Aid for families with dependent children), WIC (women, infants and children) programs, veteran programs and others.
Research areas in social welfare policy include:
The policy process in the American political system generally entails these steps:
This process is also influenced by non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, which include non-profits. These groups produce research that is then used to promote particular social welfare policy initiatives. Individual members of these groups may be called to testify before Congress on specific social welfare policy matters.
Here are some examples of governmental groups that play a role in social welfare policy in the United States:
The American public also plays a role in shaping social welfare policy. By lobbying their elected representatives, publicly commenting on proposed regulations, and protesting policies they oppose, American citizens help determine social welfare policy. Here are some ways the general populace can contribute to the social welfare policy process.
Learn about the federal rule making process and how to make your voice heard.
Become informed about the social welfare policy issues currently under consideration at the federal level of government.
Check out the Federal Register, Congress.gov, and/or Regulations.gov for information about proposed rules, changes to existing rules, and instructions on where to send your comments and the deadlines for the public comment period.
Find your chapter using the state social work association and offer your expertise to help prepare comments on proposed regulations, develop new regulations, or modify existing regulations.
Everyone, regardless of profession, is a stakeholder in social welfare policy. As a professional and scholar-practitioner, though, you have a special role. You influence social welfare policy by:
researching and publishing on subjects you care about
identifying and indicating areas where policy is needed
creating connections with colleagues in your field and engaging them in meaningful dialogue
working to your full potential and maintaining your intellectual curiosity
volunteering to participate in policy meetings
continuing to engage with the relevant scholarly literature
speaking out against ill-advised policy and promoting sound policy
putting Walden's mission of positive social change into practice