“Social workers analyze, formulate, and evaluate policies that advance social well-being; and collaborate with colleagues and clients for effective policy action” (CSWE Educational Policy (2015) Competency 5). Pursuant to this statement, select a governmental social welfare policy that is of relevance to rural populations and then analyze it using a theoretical framework of your choice. You must also develop a rural aspect to the policy.  The paper should be written in APA style, using the “Six Step Policy Analysis” model outlined below as a guideline.


    1) Understanding the problem in a rural context

    2) Setting goals and defining criteria

    3) Developing alternatives to meet the criteria

    4) comparing alternatives and arriving at a policy decision that best fits rural contexts

    5) Implementing the decision

    6) Evaluating the results from a rural context

Step  1 – Understanding the problem from a rural context

      State the problem meaningfully by collecting research and analyze the data

      Determine the magnitude and extent of the problem from the following perspectives:






Continually re-define the problem in light of what is possible

Eliminate irrelevant material

Question the accepted thinking about the problem

Question initial formulations of the problem

Eliminate ambiguity

Focus on the central, critical factors

Is it important? Is it unusual? Can it be solved?

Identify who is concerned, and why?

What power do concerned parties have?

      Make a quick estimate of resources required to deal with the problem

Step 2 – Setting goals and defining criteria

What are the important policy goals, and how will they be measured?

Identify criteria central to the problem and relevant to the stakeholders

Formulate a good set of goals, values and objectives

Identify desirable and undesirable outcomes considering the following:

      –Is there a rank order of importance among the criteria? What will be the rules for comparing alternatives?

      –Administrative Ease

      –Costs and benefits




      –Political acceptability

Step 3 – Developing alternatives to meet the criteria. One of which you create or develop (Consider at least two policies)

Consider the following:

      –what the basic assumptions are

      –how the alternative will work

      –what interventions will be used;

      –and what social science findings attest to their effectiveness

Consider the status quo, or no-action alternative

Consult with experts

Brainstorming, Scenario writing

Redefine the problem if necessary

Step 4 – Comparing alternative and arriving at a policy decision

Select appropriate methods and apply them correctly

Estimate expected outcomes, effects, and impacts of each policy alternative

Do the predicted outcomes meet the desired goals?

Can some alternatives be quickly discarded?

Continue in-depth analysis of alternatives that make the first cut. Use visual displays such as a matrix, charts and graphs,  this will eliminate a long narrative

Choose a format for display to compare and contrast

strengths and weaknesses of each alternative

Describe the best and worst case scenario for each alternative (Use matrices, reports, lists, charts, scenarios, arguments)

Determine which is most effective

Cost less

Easiest to implement

Step 5 -Implementing the decision

      According to Bennis, Benne, and Chin (1985) in their classic book The Planning of Change three type of change strategies exist. Select one and discuss why it is the best. You may also want to use more than one.

      —rational empirical strategyincludes the following characteristics:

            –best data and best arguments

            –rational people will embrace a better way to do things

            –provides data and research


      —normative reeducative strategy:

            –operates on the idea that people resist things inconsistent with their world view

            –resocialize to new world views

            –reeducate to new policy and it’s benefits

      —power coercive strategy

            –forced to follow by authority or legal force

Step 6 – Evaluating the results

Design an ongoing monitoring system (Hoefer, 2012a)

Suggest strategy for policy evaluation

      —fidelity assessment-was the policy implemented like the original plan

      —formative evaluation (Scriven, 1991).-aims at making policies more effective; perfect the policy

summative evaluation (Scriven, 1991)-aims to if policy works and what was responsible for the results. Summative looks at:  effort, process, outcome, impact and cost effectiveness

Sources of Policy Statistics:

      U.S. Census

      Bureau of Labor Statistics


      National Center for Health Statistics

      National Center for Educational Statistics

      Environmental Protection Agency

      Federal Election Commission

      World Bank

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