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The following outline is provided to help you structure the paper and to aid you in gathering information. You should start your information gathering immediately! You may wish to complete one section of the paper at a time and thus might think about the assignment as six (6) short papers, or one long paper with six different sub-headings. Typically, this paper has been somewhere in the range of 15- 20 (double-spaced) pages [+/-]. Regardless, I suggest you focus on “quality” as opposed to “quantity.” Feel free to ask me questions as you are working on your agency paper….although I will prompt you to think for yourself to some extent.
In summary, this paper has four primary goals:
1. To help the students understand the fieldwork agency and how it fits within the community. Students are to analyze the extent to which their agency and/or program are consistent with an empowerment orientation and the Mission Statement of the Niagara University BSW Program.
2. To provide the student with an opportunity to apply theoretical knowledge (e.g. about organizational structure and dynamics, empowering social work practice, etc.) to a particular segment of social welfare service delivery system within the context of a specific community.
3. To help the student recognize contemporary social welfare aims and processes, and to deepen his/her understanding of, and commitment to, the empowerment tradition within the social work profession.
4. To allow the student to demonstrate his or her ability to interview and conduct a focused and systematic inquiry (i.e., the purposeful collection of information), present a reliable interpretation of this information, and critically reflect on its relevance for clients, social workers, and the community.
(Agency Papers need to address all six [6] of the following requirements)
1. Description/Critical Reflection On Agency Mission and Services:
What is the mission (or the stated goals) of the agency/program? What services do they offer? Who is the client population? Do services, in fact, help actualize the agency’s goals? How? Do you see any discrepancies between the agency’s stated goals and how it functions in the lives of clients, workers, and the community? Be specific. Would you say the overall approach of the agency (how it actually operates) is empowering for clients and social workers, if so how? Back up your assessment with specifics. At this point in your paper, clearly define the term “empowerment.” Refer back to your definition as you proceed with the assignment.
2. Description/Critical Reflection on Agency Structure:
Describe the formal structure of the agency and produce an organizational chart of the agency. Differentiate the informal from the formal structure. What types of practitioners work within the agency (e.g. medical, educational, clinical, and paraprofessional, social workers, C.A.C.’s) and are there issues/conflicts between groups? Does the agency have a board of directors or advisory board? How powerful is the board in relation to the agency director: Are clients represented? Is staff represented? What are the primary functions of the board and what is its impact on agency policy and development? Who funds the agency and how much does the funding source(s) determine agency policy and development? Does the agency structure mostly support or undermine the empowerment of clients and social workers? Back up your assessment with specifics.
3. Description/Critical Reflection on Service Delivery:
What are admission or entry criteria for clients and how are these criteria determined? What type of client has the best chance of receiving maximum benefits from services? What alternatives do clients have in obtaining desired services? If they do not obtain what they need from services, is there an appeal system or another agency to which they can turn? Do the clients pay for services? If so, how are fees determined and implemented? Is there any community or other pressures that affect acceptance or rejection of certain clients? Approximately what percentage of the client population is from minority groups, and/or at risk populations? What provisions are made for client feedback and input into agency decision-making? How are services to the client terminated? What is the basis for termination? What are major impediments to effective service delivery?
4. Description/Critical Reflection of Social Work Practice Within the Agency:
Describe the characteristics of social workers within your agency (i.e., training and other employment requirements, general background, race/ethnicity, needed attitudes). Describe initial and ongoing in-service training programs of the agency. What are the role(s) and specific functions of the social worker in this agency? What methods and techniques are generally used in intervention? In what ways do the clientele of the agency influence the selection of methods, their implementation and outcomes? Would the social workers and their methods of practice be considered empowering by clients? Why and/or why not? Be specific. Does social work practice within the agency deal with micro, mezzo, and macro levels of intervention? Be specific. How is the social work process measured and evaluated? What methods of supervision are used? Is supervision provided to all workers or only new workers?
5. Inter-organization and Community Relations
With what other agencies do social workers in your agency interact in their work? Describe the type of exchange and relationship existing between your agency and others (e.g., contractual, cooperative, competitive, conflictual). What is the extent of control of one agency over another (i.e., subsidiary, funding source, balance of exchange). What are significant attitudes in the community toward the agency? Does your agency encourage client involvement in peer networks? If so, why? If not, why not? What newsworthy events (or events which might become newsworthy if they were leaked to the press) have happened recently at your agency? What effect have these events had on clients, staff, policies, or services?
6. Recommendation for Increasing Client Empowerment:
Summarize the empowering and disempowering (paternalistic, punitive) aspects of your agency’s structure, policy and practices. What recommendations do you have for maintaining/increasing an empowerment orientation to social work practice in your agency? What possible changes and trends do you see developing in your agency in the unforeseeable future? (Give reasons to back up your predictions.)
What changes/trends are disempowering or empowering for clients? How can you use your personal power (alone or with others) to increase client empowerment?
HELPFUL TIPS FOR COMPLETING THE AGENCY PAPER
• Be sure and start gathering the data for your paper EARLY…because it often takes several attempts to reach some persons you may need to talk to, or to find what you’re searching for. Do not accept all information at face value, instead, evaluate your data carefully before including [it] in your paper – THINK!
• The topics on this outline should be covered in as much detail as possible. A brief, purely factual answering of the topic areas outlined above will most likely result in less credit, as opposed to a more thorough (concise & precise) discussion. Do not overlook the last section of the paper addressing client empowerment.
• You must document where your information was obtained from, whether from verbal or written sources, or from “whom.” For information that is not your own, or taken from outside sources, you need to use “quotations” and/or give appropriate credit.
• Be sure to use the above sub-headings – exactly as they appear and in the same order as shown above. “No headings” = poor grade!! – no exceptions. Do not get creative here! – follow instructions!!