Each student will complete a formal paper as the signature assignment in this course. The purpose of this paper is for students to utilize their learning experience, research, and critical thinking to demonstrate their understanding of the concepts and theories presented during the semester. Students will reflect upon and analyze a specific social problem of relevance to social work, and assess an agency that is working to address that problem. Special emphasis will be placed on the analysis of social work values, systems theory, the strengths perspective, and scholarly research. This paper will be turned in at the end of the semester and will be considered the final course assessment.
The suggested length of the paper is 8-10 pages not including the cover page and reference page. The paper must follow APA style. No abstract or conclusion is required, however, the paper must include a title page, running header with pagination, be double spaced using Times New Roman 12 pt. font, use in-text citations where necessary, and include a separate reference page.
The first major task for the Agency Assessment assignment is to select a social problem of relevance to social work (e.g., child maltreatment, substance abuse, racial disparities in health, etc.) that will be the focus of your paper. Once you’ve selected a specific social problem you will then locate at least three scholarly sources of information (e.g., book, peer-reviewed journal article, etc.) that document the prevalence of the problem you selected, explain the underlying cause(s) of the problem, and identify potential solutions/effective interventions. This task will be completed in Module 9.
The second major task is to then identify an agency or organization that is working to address the social problem you selected. The agency/organization can either provide direct services (micro/mezzo level interventions) or the agency/organization can be focused on policy and systems advocacy (macro interventions). In terms of geographic focus, you are free to select an agency/organization that operates at the local, state and/or national level. However, whichever agency/organization you select be sure that you are able to collect enough information in order to complete the assignment. The most efficient approach will be to select an organization with a detailed website, but you might also reach out to the agency/organization directly if the needed information is not available online. This task will be completed in Module 12.
The required sections of this paper are listed below along with a set of questions and prompts, each of which should be addressed in your paper. Be sure to include headings in your paper to mark the beginning of each new section.
Section 1: Primary Social Problem (suggested length: 1 page)
What is the social problem that you have chosen to focus on? Be sure to provide a clear definition for the problem you’ve selected.
Based on scholarly sources, how common is this problem in the United States?
Based on scholarly sources, what group or groups are most likely to be affected by this problem? (Be sure to search for research on any disparities that might exist with respect to race, ethnicity, gender, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, immigration status, etc.)
Section 2: Causes and Solutions (suggested length: 2-3 pages)
Based on scholarly sources, what are the underlying causes of the problem? (Be sure to note if there are competing theories for why a problem exists.)
Explain how the underlying causes relate to ecosystems theory and the person-in-environment perspective.
What solutions have been proposed to address this problem? Are these solutions evidence-based?
Section 3: Social Work Values (suggested length: 1-2 pages)
What social work values are most important for understanding the problem and thinking about how we should respond? Be sure to provide a detailed explanation for why you chose the values you did.
Do the proposed solutions that you identified in the previous section (Causes and Solutions) conform to social work values? Why or why not?
Section 4: Agency/organization Evaluation (suggested length: 1-2 pages)
Provide a brief overview of the agency or organization that you selected. Where are they located? Who do they serve and/or who do they advocate for? What services and/or advocacy activities do they engage in specific to the social problem you selected?
Do their services and/or advocacy activities reflect a strengths-based approach? If so, describe. If not, how could the strengths-based approach be enhanced?
Are their services evidence-based and/or do they advocate for evidence-based solutions? Explain.
Section 5: Self-Reflection (suggested length: 2 pages)
How did completion of this assignment change your thinking about the social problem you selected?
What are your thoughts about the adequacy of your selected agency’s or organization’s response to that social problem? What are they doing well? Where could they improve?
What value conflicts might arise in social work practice when addressing the social problem you selected?
Is this a social problem you would like to address as a future social work practitioner? Explain.
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