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Diana DiNitto is Cullen Trust Centennial Professor of Alcohol Studies and Education and Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas at Austin where she teaches courses in social welfare policy, alcohol and drug problems, research, and pedagogy. She has a MSW degree and a Ph.D. in government from Florida State University. She has worked in a detoxification center, halfway house, and outpatient chemical dependency treatment program. She is also coauthor of Chemical Dependency: A Systems Approach, 4th ed. (Allyn & Bacon, Fall 2011) and Social Work: Issues and Opportunities in a Challenging Profession, 3rd ed. (Lyceum Books, 2008). Her research in on substance abuse, violence against women, and social welfare policy. Dr. DiNitto has served on the boards of the Council and Social Work Education, the Association of Medical Education and Research on Substance Abuse, and the Texas Research Society on Alcoholism. She currently chairs the NASW Press Book Committee. She has been a visiting professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the University of Sydney (Australia). Recently she gave the Robert J. O’Leary Memorial Lecture at Ohio State University entitled “Ending America’s Ambivalence in the War on Drugs” and presented invited testimony on drug policy to the United States Sentencing Commission.
Table of Contents
All chapters conclude with “Summary,” “End Notes,” Websites, and suggestions for Class Discussion and Activities.
Introduction: Politics, Rationalism, and Social Welfare Policy
Instructors have asked for a shorter introductory chapter.
- This shorter chapter focuses on rational and political approaches to understanding social welfare policy and policymaking.
- A boxed illustration “Special Tips for the Legislative Process” focuses on ideas for policy practice.
Chapter 1. Politics and the Policymaking Process.
- Focuses on stages and issues in the policymaking process, including political ideology and the influence of special interests, and financing the welfare state (federal, state, and local taxes), including who pays and who benefits.
- Illustrations include: top contributors to Republican and Democratic candidates; one PAC’s criteria for supporting candidates; campaign finance reform; where the federal budget comes from and where it goes; and changing policy through grassroots action (another policy practice tool).
Chapter 2. Analyzing, Implementing, and Evaluating Social Welfare Policy
- Emphasizes that politics affects even the technical aspects of policy analysis, implementation, and evaluation
- Provides a model of policy analysis and examples of policy implementation and policy evaluation. Includes controversies in policy implementation that had disastrous results during and following hurricane Katrina, and controversies in the evaluations of social welfare programs, especially Head Start and D.A.R.E.
Chapter 3: Politics and the History of Social Welfare Policy
- Covers the major periods in U.S. social welfare history and political conflicts during each, including information on the Obama administration. Also discusses sources of welfare expansion.
- Illustrations include “The Revolution No One Noticed,” including a figure illustrating social welfare and defense spending, and an illustration on the controversies over federalism in social welfare.
Chapter 4. Ending Poverty: Is It An Issue Anymore?
- This chapter has been a favorite of many instructors. Presents six different approaches to defining poverty (deprivation, inequality, lack of human capital, culture, exploitation, structure) and approaches to addressing poverty based on these definitions. Discusses the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Section 8 and other housing programs, and assistance for those who are homeless. Discusses the successes of conservatives in promoting their views for addressing poverty. Raises the question of whether Americans have come to accept the current level of poverty in the United States.
- Illustrations highlight the extent and depth of poverty and income inequality in the United States, describe the Self-Sufficiency Standard as an alternative to the federal poverty measure, what it takes to qualify for SNAP, and contrast the experiences of Barbara Ehrenreich and Adam Shepard in “making it” in America.
Chapter 5: Preventing Poverty: Social Insurance and Personal Responsibility
- Discusses the major social insurance programs: Social Security (Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance), unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation and the political controversies surrounding these programs.
- Considers whether Social Security is equitable for women, people of different racial and ethnic groups, and members of different generations, and a number of approaches to making Social Security solvent for the future and for modernizing unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation
- Illustrations include “Social Security–Who Qualifies, and How Much Do Beneficiaries Receive?” and “Will You Reap What You Sow?
6. Disability Policy: From Public Assistance to Civil Rights
- Discusses the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program and its controversies, including the disability determination process and case backlog; conflicting goals of public assistance and rehabilitation and work programs; and controversies in civil rights legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and its amendments.
- Illustrations look at the qualifying for SSI, Plans to Achieve Self Sufficiency, the proposed Community Choice Act, and the United Nations Disability Convention.
7. Helping Needy Families: Ending Welfare as We Knew It
- Discusses the controversies in the Child Support Enforcement and Temporary Assistance to Needy Families programs, including the sweeping changes made by the 1996 welfare reform legislation, e.g., the move from a public assistance to a more work-focused program, the precipitous drop in caseloads, and what has happened to those leaving the TANF program.
- Illustrations include the penalties incurred when earnings from work increase and a comparison of the supports for families with young children across nations.
8. Financing Health Care: Can All Americans Be Insured?
- This chapter discusses Medicare, Medicaid, and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and how these programs fare in covering older, young, and low-income Americans. It looks at the private insurance market and describes the battle over health care reform and the Patient Protection and Affordability Act of 2010. Ethical dilemmas in health care such as euthanasia and privacy are also addressed.
- Illustrations include a look at who is uninsured and who is not, the fight over a public option in health care reform, and the high costs of health care, including comparisons across nations.
9. Preventing Poverty Through Education and Employment
- This new chapter traces education policy from its initial focus on American values to a focus on access and now on achievement, including the controversial No Child Left Behind Act. It also looks at the evolution of job programs to the current Workforce Investment Act and the modest results these job programs have produced over the last decades.
- Among the chapter illustrations is one that considers alternatives to a college education, such as apprenticeships.
10. Providing Social Services: Help for Children, Older Americans, and Individuals with Mental and Substance Use Disorders
- This chapter focuses on child welfare including the many controversies over removing children from their homes and placing them in foster care or in adoptive homes. It addresses social services for older adults, especially the Older Americans Act, and controversial issues such as guardianship. It looks at the history and current state of services for those who have mental and/or substance use disorders, including the effects of the war on drugs on these individuals and their families.
- Among the illustrations are Baby Moses laws, the removal of children from the Yearning for Zion Ranch, the problems that drug abuse poses in the child welfare system, and a recovery bill of rights for those with alcohol and drug problems.
11. The Challenges of a Diverse Society: Social Policy, Gender, and Sexual Orientation
- Among the controversial gender issues this chapter addresses are comparable worth, an equal rights amendment, abortion and other contraception, and violence against women legislation. The controversial sexual orientation issues it addresses are employment discrimination, hate crimes, gay marriage and adoption, and gay men and lesbians serving in the military.
- Illustrations discuss women in politics, domestic violence courts, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and discrimination against GLBT students.
12. The Challenges of a Diverse Society: Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration
- School desegregation, housing discrimination, affirmative action, voting rights, Cobell vs. Norton, racial and ethnic targeting, and immigration are among the topics addressed in this chapter.
- Illustrations focus on topics such as racial profiling and Americans’ fears about immigration.