Policy & Planning
The realm of policy and planning affords a different satisfaction from direct service social work. It allows the social worker to have an influence on large numbers of people. Policy and planning involve steps and procedures that, when formulated and implemented, solve a social problem. Social workers in this field address problems such as child abuse, homelessness, substance use, poverty, mental illness, violence, unemployment, and racism, among many others. They work to improve systems to better conditions for the people affected.
Social workers analyze policies, programs, and regulations to see what is most effective. They identify social problems, study needs and related issues, conduct research, propose legislation, and suggest alternative approaches or new programs. They may foster coalitions of groups with similar interests and develop organizational networks.
On a daily basis, policy and planning work often means analyzing census data and legislation, drafting position papers, testifying at public hearings, working with the media, talking with policymakers, and lobbying elected and appointed officials. Social work tasks may involve raising funds, writing grants, or conducting demonstration projects. Often, social workers are the directors of organizations that do this work.
Work on any one issue may take many months or years, and change is often incremental. But work in the policy and planning field earns social workers the satisfaction of knowing they are pressing our society to improve the quality of life for all its members.
• Public interest groups
• Local, state, and federal government
• Voluntary health and welfare councils
• Advocacy organizations
• Development corporations
• Trade associations
• Administrative associations