Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Human Services Budget Reductions

Here is a paper that examines state subsidies for day care and the possible situation when these services are cut.

According to the a recent State Journal Register article, Illinois Human Services budget will be cut at least $226 million in the fiscal year of 2011.

According to Governor Quinn’s proposed plan the budget would cut $52 million from services such as subsidized child care for low-income families. Governor Quinn stated the cuts would be from “human capital development”, which is defined as the stock of competences, knowledge and personality attributes embodied in the ability to perform labor so as to produce economic value. In other words, they will no longer be able to provide low-income families with a discounted rate or free day care expenses, so the 100,000 children statewide that receive state-subsidized child care would decrease in number as services are cut. Community Childcare Connections is the name of the Illinois program that currently has 150,000 children enrolled in the program. The program goal is to provide families with access to quality, affordable child care that allows them to continue working and contributes to the healthy, emotional and social development of the child. Families are required to cost-share on a sliding scale based on family size, income and number of children in care. To be eligible for the program the following criteria must be met; low-income, working families, who are receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), but are participating in education and/or training, or parents that are not receiving TANF but are attending education and /or training, teen parents seeking high school degree, or equivalent; that are attempting to improve their situation.

Their website http://www.dhs.state.il.us, has a eligibility calculator to determine benefits, for example, if a family of 3 is making less than $800.00 a month, they would be eligible for benefits. The parents’ responsibility of payment for a full 5 day week of daycare over 5 hours a day for 2 children would be $25.78 per month.

The parents of the 150,000 children that are currently receiving services from Community Childcare Connections are about to have another financial crisis to worry about, day care expenses. The typical daycare charges $90 to $125, a week, per child who isn’t considered a toddler or who is not yet school age. The price for care given to newborns up to 2 years old can be as much as $150.00 weekly, and care for school age children ranges from $50.00 to $75.00 a week when school is on session. The above prices are for one child, but some daycares offer discount for more than one child. Let’s consider a 2 year old and a 7 year old in full time Summer daycare when the 7-year-old is out of school; the weekly cost due to the daycare is $200.00 a week, for 2 children. Their parents are both working full time 5 days a week at their minimum wage jobs; so they are bringing home each week after taxes about $218.00, for a total of $436.00 a week. According to the estimated calculator from the website, this family is currently paying around $100 a month for daycare expenses. If this family loses their assisted daycare expenses they will be paying out $200 a week, instead of $100 a month just to be able to go to work. These are the people that are going to be affected by Governor Quinn’s human capital development budget cut. These parents that are trying to improve their situation are going to be to have to choose between employment and daycare. Without the daycare assistance from Community Childcare Connections can this family actually afford to work?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Social Work & Religion: A Duty to Inform

As we entered into week two, the class was given the assignment to read pages 178- 207, a section of our textbook that described the field of social work and its inherent affiliation with religion. The authors, Philip Popple and Leslie Leighninger, spent a significant amount of time detailing the religious roots of social welfare. They highlight that this religious affiliation was not limited to one specific cohort. Rather, Popple and Leighninger explain that associations span numerous populations including early Egyptian, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim cultures. In fact, they attribute the profession of social work to three specific movements, each having derived from the church: Charity Organization Society (COS) movement, Settlement House movement, and the development of institutions to deal with an entire range of social problems.

Eventually, the field of social work became more secular. Following the general secularization of society, public view began to stray from the “God’s Will” mentality of unfortunate events. Instead, individuals began to seek scientific, rational explanations for more of life’s events. As the growth of government services increased, funding with religious affiliation decreased. The 1960’s and 1970’s brought along with it waves of new students entering the social work profession, fueled by political and ideological incentives rather than religious motives.

Today, it can be argued that the tides are once again turning. The argument that social work has begun to see the reversal of secularization does not go without merit. In the past few years there has been a large amount of growth in conservative churches. Principles such as lack of birth control have fostered large population increases. Since President Reagan, trends in governmental control have shifted to incorporate more religious association. Communities continue to see the establishment and growth of professional organizations such as the North American Association of Christians in Social Work. Education programs continue to develop, offering a religious focus while those in doctoral pursuits are choosing dissertations with a religious aim. Still, social work and religion continue to be sensitive companions.

It has been a common argument that religion presents difficulties for both the individual social worker and agency. Those with strong religious views tend be less concerned with the material needs of the client. Agencies face concern with policies that outline client self- determination and non-judgementalism. Furthermore, most agencies agree that social work is not a place for “whitnessing”. The subject is often the topic of much debate and has not gone without capturing the attention of the media.

Author George Will begins his piece Code of Coercion by recapping the 1943 Supreme Court case, West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, where it was determined that government funded schools could not force children in attendance to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. He goes on to argue that this decision continues to be disparaged by teachers at public universities, particularly in the field of social work. Fortunately, George Will’s accusations fall apart with minimal investigation. Highlighted as a shining example of his allegations, Will tells the story of a former UIS student, Sandra Fuiten, who halted her pursuit of a BSW after a professor “told her that it is impossible to be both a social worker and an opponent of abortion” (Will, 2007). Between her comments for the Indianapolis Star and her self- written article, Anti- Catholic Social Work, one can see through her use of language and inconsistencies that her credibility is questionable at best. At one point, Fuiten states, “Surely Jane Addams has turned over in her grave myriad times, but I am sure she has at least for me.” I think, the only one that would be turning over in their grave would be Ms. Sandra Fuiten’s legal consultant.

All things considered, I challenge Mr. Will to pay homage to several other famous Supreme Court cases such as Brown v. Board of Education (1954), Roe v. Wade (1973), and United States v. Nixon (1974). For in the company of educators, doctors, and government officials, social workers share the responsibility of informing the individual(s) in which they serve regardless of race, gender, status, political affiliation, or religious identification. It is not a question of forgoing personal beliefs but rather maintaining client autonomy and self-determination.

Editorial about Food Security Policies

Here is a student paper about hunger and food security policies.

The food and hunger policy in America is very beneficial for our fellow Americans. The policy has its ups and downs but throughout the years it has become a huge success for those who suffer from hunger. While there is still a high number of people who don’t receive a sufficient amount of food throughout the year, the numbers of people who receive government assistance are increasing with the help of the government and our local communities. Do you ever wonder how the awareness of hungriness is discovered? The Economic Research Services plays a large role in research on a federal level of food security. From the statistics gathered in 2008 by the Economic Research Services, it was found that in the United States eighty-five percent of people in the United States were secure with food in their households, while 14.6 percent did not have a secure amount of food in their houses sometime throughout the year. There are many different food programs designed by the government that provides assistant for those who have an insecure amount of food in their homes. The most popular program is SNAP, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is a very good program and provides people with a reasonable amount of grocery voucher money monthly. This program has helped over 24 million low-income Americans each month, according to the United States Department of Agriculture from 2008 figures. There was also a total of $37.5 billion used to supply the SNAP program amongst those low-income American families.

This program is sufficient because it focuses on helping those who are in need for food the most based on their income status and household size. While this program provides food for families it also educates them on proper dieting that helps them maintain their health for the better. So because of this requirement, education around the United States is increasing and helping people to make wiser food choices when they shop at grocery stores.

Although State participation in SNAP Education is voluntary, I feel as if it would be beneficial if it was a requirement and not an option. This education is given to improve the life of the Americans and it would help people to live longer and have less health problems as they age. This program is also beneficial to the low-income Americans because it decreases the number of children living in poverty. According to the Economic Research Service, the number dropped 4.3 percent because of SNAP. With the SNAP program more people are likely to feel secure about the amount of food they have in their homes versus not having SNAP and people feeling insecure. When people have the needed amount of food in their homes for their families they are more likely to succeed in taking care of other areas in their households. Some of those things would be employment, education, parenting, and basically life skills.

Social Worker Safety

A student wrote this paper for one of the descriptive paper assignments.

The dangers of Social Work are on the rise. Studies have shown an increase in verbal and physical abuse in the past 15 years. Some states are taking steps to help protect Social Workers. Many of these states are fighting budget crunches, like many other policies. In 2007, a bill was introduced by Dennis Moore of Kansas. He re-introduced it again in 2009. The Bill, Teri Zenner Social Worker Safety Act, is still in committee today. The Bill lays out a plan on issuing grants to states that find themselves in need of funds to properly train and protect their workers. The Bill could help states ease the burden their budget cuts have had. Currently, the Bill offers $5 million dollars a year in grant money to states, but this amount needs to be increased. Social Workers have a direct correlation to the future well being of children and need to be funded accordingly.

A 2002 survey conducted by the National Association of Social Workers found that violence and threats were common. The survey which was taken from 800 social workers found that 19 percent of them had been victims of violence and 63 percent of them had been threatened. What is so shocking is the number of respondents who had been threatened. In many cases, not only in the public sector, but also in the private sector social workers find themselves making home visits alone and not knowing what they will find when that door opens. In 2006, a similar study was head by the same organization. This time it involved 5,000 participants. The results were just as telling, with 44 percent responding that they face safety issues while on the job. Social workers making in home visits are there to ensure the safety of the children involved and are constantly looking for signs that they may be in a dangerous setting. These surveys show that not only do they need to be looking out for the child’s safety but their own as well. A 2000 Bureau of Labor Statistics found that social service workers were 7 times more likely to be victims of violent assaults while at work, than other workers in the private sector. It is clear that this is a dangerous yet necessary field.

In 2008, the U.S. saw a major downturn in the economy which lead to fewer tax revenues but not lower spending. This combination meant many states found themselves in budget crisis, from California to Florida to Michigan. All states in the union found themselves with choices to make and cuts to the budget to produce. Many states looked at the Social Workers as areas they could cut employees by adding to the case loads of other case workers. The state of Illinois is looking at a budget shortfall of 13 billion dollars this coming year. Legislatures are looking at the state’s Human Services Budget for cuts. These cuts would test a budget already stretched too thin. On Feb 24th, the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability released a study showing the state of Illinois underfunded the Human Services Budget by 4.4 billion dollars from 2002 to 2010. States need assistance to ensure that they can keep these vital programs operating and operating at the safest possible levels.

In 2007, Dennis Moore, a lawmaker from Kansas introduced the HR-2165 Teri Zenner Social Worker Safety Act. This bill would allow states to receive federal funding to help ensure the safety of Social Workers. The bill is in honor of Teri Zenner, a social worker in Kansas, who had been stabbed and killed in a routine in home visit in 2004. This tragic event may have something good come from it if legislation like this can be passed. The first Teri Zenner Social Worker Safety Act referred in the future of this paper as HR-2165 was dedicated to provide funding for proper training of social workers. HR-2165 had eight areas where funds were to be directed. First, funds would be used to provide safety equipment such as cell phones and GPS devices for workers, training in self defense and crisis management, facility safety improvements, provision of pepper spray for self defense, cultural competency training, training to help work with the mentally ill, educational resources to train staff on safety awareness measures and finally other activities determined by the Secretary to be safety training. Of these eight points the three most important may be the self defense and crisis management training, installation of safety equipment, and provision of pepper spray. Sadly this bill died in Committee only to reappear in 2009 under HR-1490 Teri Zenner Social Worker Safety Act. The bill was yet again introduced by Dennis Moor and sponsored by 50 others but it too is currently stuck in Committee. It would seem that safety of social workers takes a back seat in politics and many Americans don’t fully understand what social workers do, with many not having any experience with them. HR-1490 is an exact copy of HR-2160, but it would seem the states need of the bill is even greater at this point with the budget cuts that many states are facing.

One of the issues with HR-2160 and HR-1490 is the apparent lack of funding in the bill. The bill only offers a $5 million dollar provision to be spread among all states every year for five years. Most states like Illinois, where the Human Services Budget has been under funded by $4.4 billion dollars over 8 years, would see this grant money as a drop in the pool lacking funds. The bill needs to make more money available for grants especially in this economic climate. The key would be to ensure that the money given to the different states organizations is really used to increase the safety of the social worker in the field. Training sessions should be set up in major cities throughout each state to make sure that social workers have access to the latest techniques in dealing with a crisis. It is possible, if the bill was to make it out of committee and onto the floor for a vote it would garner national attention. Then it could be expanded as Americans learn what social workers find themselves up against on a daily basis.

Social worker safety has seen an increase in attention in the past 15 years but not in action. Surveys have shown that many social workers feel that they are in dangerous situations when out in the field. In a study conducted in 2002, 19 percent had been victims of violence while 63 percent had been threatened. Studies like this show there is a very present danger in social services field and it is important to ensure that the workers are going into the field with the best possible training and equipment. In 2007, Dennis Moore introduced a bill that would provide states with grant money to provide such training and funding. Although that bill would die, it did make reappearance in 2009 and is currently in committee, where it will hopefully find its way to the floor for a vote. Over the years, there have been several high profile stories of social workers meeting their deaths in the field but many more acts of violence or threats never go reported.

Health Care Costs and Health Care Reform.

Here is a short descriptive paper one of the students wrote about health care costs and the health care reform of 2010.

Frightening statistics surrounding the healthcare field appear to be released every day. In 2008, it was projected that 16.2% of our nation’s economy is spent on healthcare. New reports have that number increasing again for 2009. Early estimates report that Americans spent $2.5 trillion on healthcare, giving the overall percentage a gain to about 17.3% of our nation’s budgetary allowance. This symbolizes the biggest one-year expansion of healthcare’s share in our nation’s economy on record. Justifications for such dramatic increase are accredited to the recession. As millions of Americans have lost their jobs and consequently their health insurance, Medicaid has seen a record increase involving those individuals that qualify. Roughly 45 million people remain uninsured, translating into sky rocketing costs for current insurance holders.

The United States government may or may not have finally come up with a solution. Following decades of failed attempts by Democrats, the United States House of Representatives made history when they passed health care reform in a 219 to 212 vote on March 21st, 2010. Two days later, President Obama signed the bill it into law. So far, Democrats vow that the new law will yield great changes for the American public. Beginning with the reduction of premium costs and providing the largest middle class tax cut for health care in history, 32 million Americans are expected to be able to afford healthcare who otherwise would go uninsured. It sets the stage for a new competitive health insurance market, allowing millions of citizens to choose from the same pool that members of Congress do. By overseeing insurance companies, the government boasts that there will come an end to the discrimination of people with pre-existing conditions. Perhaps at a greater sell, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects that the healthcare reform will reduce the federal deficit by $138 billion over the next ten years. Yet, the reality of healthcare reform has not been met without criticism.

Just as one argues that the reform will greatly reduce our nation’s budget, those that oppose argue that the $938 billion price tag for this bill (over the next ten years) outweighs its advantages. Lack of funding to support the massive bill would, in turn, lead to rationed care, longer waits, and delays. Furthermore, the bill neglects a secondary source of negligent spending, the pharmaceutical industry. In 2009, spending increased a whopping 5.2% to $246.3 billion dollars. Researchers hold the growth of brand name drugs, the demand for H1N1 vaccines, and the increased per-person use of drugs as responsible. Some concerned insurance holders fear that the quality of medical care will nose dive as the demand for care steadily increases.

Regardless of what the supporters and those that oppose the bill say, the outcomes of the healthcare reform have yet to be tallied. What faces the American public now is a lengthy waiting game.

The following websites were used as references:



Send fewer petty criminals to jails

A student wrote this editorial after being inspired by the story on NPR by Laura Sullivan about poor people serving long jail terms for small crimes because they couldn't raise bail. The original story is at NPR. Another part of Laura Sullivan's story is here. The NPR series concluded with this article.

I don't agree with the way that people are sent to prison for every minor misdemeanor. For instance, we read the article about a homeless person who stole a blanket from the store, and was sent to prison because he couldn't pay the $50 bail fee. The thing that people either don't look at or don't care about, is that it costs way more of the taxpayer's money to keep them in prison than the $15 blanket is worth. I understand if it is a major crime like murder, and things that they are tried for right away, but these small crimes aren't even put onto trial for up to a year after they happen. I think it is crazy how much money we pay to keep people in prison. We pay $9 billion each year on funding prisons. Personally, I would much rather pay for a $15 blanket for a homeless person. Maybe there should be $9 billion towards homelessness prevention, and it would probably even cost less than that.

There was also a situation in Lubbock, TX where a guy stole a $150 television set from Wal-Mart while high on meth and was sent to prison for 75 days. For those days, it cost taxpayers $2,850, let alone all the money for the completely full jail cells. Twenty years ago when people were convicted of a crime, they were released until their hearing and they would just come back. Instead, we built a $110 million mega jail. In my opinion, the solution to this problem is doing pretrial release, where they are sent home with an ankle bracelet, drug testing, counseling, or a social worker. This would come out to about $2 per day instead of $9 per day. If this case was made, I think a lot of people would be for it, except for the bond companies. The bond companies make a living off of all the convicted people paying bonds, so they would be opposed to the idea. However, there are a lot more taxpayers out there that could out rule the bond companies.

Safety for Elderly without Restraints

Here is a paper by one of the students in the social welfare policies course.

History has shown that elderly people have always been vulnerable to abuse. They were forced to retire at an early age, society didn’t want them around, they received little health care, and were written off as a group of people who are needy. Laws and legislations have stopped this type of abuse, but have let another form emerge. The use of physical restraints are being used to keep elderly people safe has become common trend in our society. This controversial procedure has good arguments for and against it. However, in more recent years legislation has attempted to make this treatment illegal. I for one, think physical restraints should be used in the least invasive way only when necessary in the best interest of the patient, when no alternative intervention can be utilized.

A restraint is defined as a manual method, physical or mechanical device, material or equipment that’s attached to one’s body or processions that cannot be easily removed and affects one’s mobility. Examples of restraints are tying one down to a hospital bed, bedrails, wheelchair belts, wheelchair trays, or anything else that restricts one’s independence. In an extreme case in Chicago a nineteen year old chained her eighty-one year old father to a toilet for seven days. She also hit him and tied his legs together. In a telephone study, by More and Pillemer in 1989, of 577 nurses and nursing aides over one third of them said that they had seen physical abuse, including unnecessary use of restraints. Ten percent of respondents admitted to using physical abuse to residents.

Doctors must specify the reason for the device, how it’s to be used and how long the patient should use it. As restraints are potentially dangerous the restraint must be continuously evaluated for the effectiveness and the least restricted method should be used to promote the most independence. However, in this economy nursing facilities have reduced their staff and increased the use of restraints. Another study concluded that restraints cost than more staff members.

Overall the use of restraints has declined during the last decade. In the 1990s thirty to forty percent of nursing home residents were restrained. In July of 2007 this figure had become reduced to nine percent. In European countries, this rate is as small as five percent. This could be due to a number of reasons. Perhaps the biggest cause in reduction of the use of restraints is due to a law that was passed by the state of Minnesota in 1999.

In 1999 Minnesota Statute 144.651, subdivision 33) which established explicitly the right of residents or residents' decision makers to request physical restraints. It also specified that legitimate medical reasons for using a physical restraint include: "1) a concern for the physical safety of the resident; and 2) physical or psychological needs expressed by a resident. A resident's fear of fear of falling may be the basis of a medical symptom."

There are alternatives for using restraints to keep the elderly safe. Basic everyday needs, such as toileting, bathing, providing fluids throughout the day, closer supervision by staff socialization activities, and removing barriers to create a safer environment are ideas that would be free for nursing homes to intervene when necessary. Assigning the same staff person to a resident to improve function and decrease unwanted behaviors is another priceless alternative to restraints. Rehabilitation programs, walkers, hearing aids, vision aids, bed and chair alarms for residents to use when they need help, and wheelchairs are a little more costly, but are still ways to keep elderly people safe. Door alarms are used with residents who wander off.

In my opinion restraints, such as bed rails, wheelchair belts or trays should only be used for safety, under a physician’s orders, when no alternatives are possible at the time of need, or in emergencies. No one should be tied to a bed! I guess I’m at the same dilemma as I read in one of my references; safety verses independence. Fostering and promoting independence will be big issues that I advocate for as a social worker. However, I think safety is more important than independence. My solution for this problem would be to use the least invasive restraints as possible. I think that assigning staff to a particular resident as he or she would be able to change unwanted behaviors and get to know the resident’s potential for independence and help them to be as so is an excellent idea. Restraints are used basically for incompetent older people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and those who may not know enough to consent to treatment. On a very personal note my grandmother and my sister would fit into those categories. Grandma suffered from Alzheimer's disease. When she was in a wheelchair she wore an ankle bracelet that would sound off an alarm when she would try to go outside. Hospitals had to restrain her in the rare cases that family wasn’t around her. My sister has Down’s syndrome and doesn’t understand that in the long run, being poked with a needle will make her feel better. She has to be held down to get one in her. Once again these cases prove my point that safety trumps independence.

There’s a history of restraining elderly people for their own safety. Restraints are anything that restricts movement. Rates of these occurrences were between thirty and forty percent until Minnesota passed this Minnesota Statute 144.651, subdivision 33) law in 1999. Assigning staff to particular residence, having closer staff supervision, and providing socialization activities are only three of many alternatives to using restraints. I don’t like the idea of restraints. They should only be used under a doctor’s order, in emergencies, or when alternatives are not available at that time. Safety is more important than independence, so in the case of an incompetent person, the least invasive restraint should be used. There are alternative ways to keep elderly people safe without restraints.

A letter about SSI and work incentives

Dear Senator Durbin:

I am writing as a constituent of Illinois. My name is ______ ________ and I am 22-years old. Growing up in New Lenox, IL I have been the fortunate recipient of luxuries such as an outstanding school district, well maintained roads, and a remarkable park district. Never, would I have thought to criticize the government, locally or federally. Yet, as circumstances would have it, my world was turned upside down in the summer of 2003. Having suffered a spinal cord injury after a diving accident, I was rendered a quadriplegic. The newfound limitations of paralysis and incurred medical expenses eventually put me in contact with the U.S. government’s Social Security department. After years of interacting with this agency I have come to conclude that the disabled population continues to be provided little incentive to integrate into the employment sector.

As I am sure you know, the Supplemental Security Income Program (SSI) makes cash assistance payments to the aged, blind and disabled people who have limited income and resources. Tax revenues generate the funds, for which this program operates. The current maximum asset level, to continue eligibility for SSI, is set at the sum of $2,000. Given that I was a young, permanently disabled student attending high school, I quickly qualified to begin receiving benefits. Despite having an active case with the Department of Human Services (DHS), sub agency Department of Rehabilitation Services (DRS), and now Social Security, I was never given an overview of the program’s specifications.

For one to fully encompass the expenses of a disabled individual one must consider medical expenses (including specialized equipment, medication, and services), cost of accessible transportation, the money necessary to employ a personal assistant, and costs associated with accessible housing. With the male medium income around mid-40k and the female medium income estimated to be around mid- 30k in this country, the incentive to work begins to diminish when considering the monetary gains versus loses.

Hidden amongst the regulations of SSI are work incentive programs and individual exceptions. In particular, the Student Earned Income Exclusion allows recipients under age 22, who regularly attend school, to earn up to $1,640 in additional income per month. Yearly maximum exclusion is restricted on amounts exceeding $6,600. Some additional qualifications do apply. Another exception includes having a documented Plan to Achieve Self-Support (PASS). The PASS allows recipients to set aside other incomes besides SSI for a specified period of time so that the individual may pursue a work goal. Under the PASS program, money that has been set aside does not qualify towards the determining of SSI payment amount.

At first glance it appears that the 2009 Federal Benefit Rate set at $674 should be more than adequate for individuals working towards employment, especially, given that the may supplement this income by applying for previously mentioned exclusions. However, these exclusions do little to assist individuals if their existence goes unbeknown to SSI recipients.

This is where the opportunity for change exists. Every recipient of SSI is assigned a caseworker. Often, these same recipients have additional client-agency relationships established at other government run locations (such as my example with DHS and DRS). It would be pertinent if these networks collaborated on client casework. At minimum, there should be regulations within the Social Security Administration that mandate employees fully brief SSI recipients on all the options available to them. I will go so far as to suggest specific emphasis on programs such as the Student Earned Income Exclusion and PASS. In promoting and fostering employment pursuit and training to disabled individuals, the US government demonstrates its support of individuals with disabilities as valuable citizens. Furthermore, it disrupts the cycle of dependence and spiraling US debt.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Student supports health care reform

Second Reaction essay

In my second reaction essay I will be focusing on healthcare. This is a much debated issue in America right now. In my opinion this bill will revolutionize the way we look at healthcare and is a monumental step forward in what we have tried to achieve with healthcare since we passed The Social Security Act of 1935.

Many right wing individuals have been blowing this bill way out of proportion, and I wonder if it is because of their underlying racism that they have learned to ignore throughout their lifetimes, because I have not seen one African American, Chinese American, or any other person of non-traditional European American descent in any of these rallies they are deciding to go through with. It shows me that many Americans are not agreeing with an African American’s viewpoint which will make sure that all Americans will receive the sort of healthcare that is unbiased and more equal than it ever has been before. Every new policy has its flaws, which can be changed over time, and this is one which we will have to live and learn with.

Tea baggers have been protesting this because of misleading propaganda that many government officials have been lying about in the media. One of the main points I would like to make is that millions of Americans do not have insurance, and due to this they do not go to receive medical attention unless they go to an emergency room where they cannot be denied healthcare. [The Census Bureau estimated about 44 million Americans had no health insurance in 2007] If every American had affordable health insurance they would be more apt to visit doctors and have small medical bills with preventative measures they can seek out and take advantage of. Going to an emergency room is substantially higher in cost because they are denied the help before there ailment becomes severe. This means that we are paying out of pocket for procedures that cost $300 dollars for an aspirin, when in a normal doctor’s visit they can tell the patient to buy aspirin themselves at a pharmacy. This is one of the main reasons that healthcare can become more affordable when we take a residual view into the whole medical system and make sure we prevent more illnesses instead of waiting for them to become much more serious and monetarily painful to all Americans.

They are also trying to limit women’s reproductive health in the bill, which should not be taking place. If a woman has a right to choose what method of contraceptive she wants to utilize for herself, many more would be apt to take advantage of this and it would be a preventative measure to ensure fewer abortions are occurring. We need to educate and use vital resources that are available in order to reduce things instead of leaving no options open and having people throwing a devastating life choice, such as abortion, in the individuals face after they have had no options.

This bill may need a lot of adjustments, but that is why new laws always need monitoring and adjusting as we fix problems that may occur in the policy once they have begun, instead of leaving millions of people uninsured, and thousands of people dying because their insurance company drops them after they get an illness because they are too big of a risk to a company who grosses billions of dollars. [A recent report estimated 45,000 deaths in America are preventable and wouldn't happen or would be delayed if everyone had access to health care.]

Policies to change parenting practices

I read an article called “When children of abuse become parents” that I found on ABC news. It is about several different parents that are struggling with trying to break the cycle of abuse because their children are misbehaving. These parents have been abused when they were children whether they were spanked, punched, or thrown across the room. They do not want to abuse their children the way they were abused because they know that it caused them problems. I thought this article goes great with what we talked about in class last week. We are talking about if it was wrong to spank children or not.

On this website there were video clips of parents struggling with their children misbehaving and not listening to them. The parents were threatening them with taking things away or threatening to hurt them and so forth. Then the families volunteered with a mentor program called Parent Aide. This program helped the parents learn a new way to deal with their children’s misbehavior. The Parent Aide said that what has worked best for children in order to prevent them from misbehaving is to maximize praise when they are doing something good. They said to do it with exaggeration and touch them by either high fiving them, patting them on the head or giving them a hug. For example, if the child takes their plate to the sink say “Wow! Thanks so much for taking your plate to the sink,” and then give them a high five! The parents could not believe that this would work, but it did. When children don’t get enough attention from their parents they will try to get it another way by throwing a fit or acting bad. They said by constantly praising them for the good things that they do and by keeping a reward chart for them that they will have better behavior.

I am so glad I read this article and watched the video clips because I am a new mother and I was spanked when I was a child, but I really didn’t want to spank my children. This gives me a new insight, and I hope to try this on my children. I thought they did a great job on explaining everything and then showing video clips to demonstrate. It was a very great article and is defiantly something I will recommend people to read.

I do believe that children do just act worse or throw a bigger fit when you yell at them or spank them. I know it is hard not to spank your kids because when you get impatient with their big tantrum it is hard to prevent. But what if you could prevent your kids from having these tantrums in the first place or at least not having them very often? I do agree that if you model the right way to act and praise them for doing it then they are going to do good more often. A lot of kids that misbehave just want attention; I know because I did it when I was a kid. I was born in a family of five, and I always wanted more attention from my mother, but she was always very busy, and when I didn’t get it I always back mouthed and acted out. Then she would spank me, threaten me or ground me, which wouldn’t help because I would just do it again. My mother use to pull my hair, kick me, slap me, and spank me, and it really did affect how I controlled my anger because now when I get angry at my boyfriend my instant reaction is to slap him. I know it is not right, and I don’t want to abuse him or my children so I believe it is important to break the cycle of abuse.

When my parents told me I couldn’t go do something it just discouraged me or made me lose confidence, but when my parents believed in me and encouraged me I felt like I could do anything. So once again I really understand what the article is talking about and how important it is to break the cycle of abuse.

I also encourage anybody who hasn’t read this article and seen these video clips to go to this website http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/parents-struggle-break-cycle-abuse/Story?id=8549642&page=1.

Child Care

My second reaction essay will be discussing an article on child care. This article is called “Child Care,” by Michelle Friedman, from the Coalition on Human Needs. I chose this topic and article because I work at a home childcare and preschool here in Springfield. While the need for childcare is rising, so is the cost of childcare. I feel that many people do not think of childcare as a social service issue, but it is. There are many programs and funding that the federal government operates in order to provide better child care services and affordable child care service. It is important to advocate for these services in order to help families all over the United States of America.

This article starts out discussing the growing need for child care. There are a few factors that influence this progression. The number of women working (participating in the paid labor force) is increasing as the years progress. Many women are going to work in order to help support the family. As the cost of things is increasing, the pay for people is staying the same. Families now need a second income. As this need for women to work increases, the need for good-quality childcare is also increasing. This article states that, unfortunately, the amount of good-quality childcare is not increasing. Every week, there are about 5 million children left unsupervised after school (Friedman). This leads to more crime and juvenile delinquency. While many families have relatives available to help with childcare, there is still a huge number of people that have to pay for childcare outside of the home. The costs for childcare can range from about $4,000 dollars to $10,000 dollars per year, per child (Friedman).

This article also talks about the quality of care for children. I like how this article mentions the importance of the quality of care effecting the child’s development. It is so important that children have interaction, safety, connections, and are being taught skills and responsibility and are engaged in learning. The child care should be more than just “babysitting.” There are many health and safety issues that children need to have as well. In this article it states that “a healthy and safe early childhood setting can also prevent cognitive and behavioral disorders later in life, some of which are irreversible” (Friedman). I feel that this is very important-helping prevent mental illness. This article mentions some statistics on the amount of child care providers that provide inadequate care. So many states have so many different rules and regulations that it is hard to ensure that each child care provider is truly an adequate provider. Of course, programs like DCFS do check-ups to ensure safety, but there are always some that get through the cracks or have second chances.

There are government programs that help with improving child care affordability and quality. There is a Child Care Development Block Grant that was passed in 1990. It became part of funding for families that receive welfare as part of the 1996 welfare law. It provides funding for early childhood development and before-and after-school child care services. There is a program called Head Start. It was created in 1965, and helps prepare low-income children to enter school. In 1996, this program served over 800,000 children (Friedman). In Springfield, I know there is a place called Community Child Care Connection. They link parents and providers to resources in the community. This is part of the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies and is funded by the Illinois Department of Human Services. They have a child care assistance program. It is run through IDHS. It provides assistance to low-income working families and families on TANF. At my childcare home that I work at, there is only one family in this program. I feel relieved for these people that they have this program available to them.

The quality of childcare is decreasing in some areas in the United States, as the cost may be rising in some areas of the U.S. I think it is important for social workers to strive for better programs for child care assistance and to keep up with the policies that are in existence now for child care.


Friedman, M. (n.d.). Child Care. Almanac of Policy Issues. Retrieved April 13, 2010, from http://www.policyalmanac.org/social_welfare/childcare.shtml

New Health Care Bill and Health Insurance

In The State Journal Register, Springfield, IL, there was an article on Wellpoint Insurance rates and how they were expecting a 39 percent rate increase for some customers. Wellpoint is the largest publicly traded health insurer based on membership, and it runs Blue Cross Shield plans and Unicare plans. This insurance company is well known in many states. The article was printed before the health care bill passed, and many thought this was a good example of how universal health care was a necessity for America.

As mentioned before, there was an expected 39 percent increase; however, the company had a 2.7 billion dollar profit in the fourth quarter of 2009. If the insurance company had such a large profit why would there be a need for 39 percent increase for those covered? Personally, I find it very disturbing that companies make profit off of health insurance. While people are struggling to pay medical bills, finding coverage, or going uninsured, companies are making billions of dollars. I find it immoral for businesses making a profit from people being sick, injured, or dying.

This semester I have been very ill and was taken to the hospital. I had a hard time finding hospitals or medical facilities I could go to that my insurance covered. I later discovered I needed surgery; however, my insurance company did not cover doctors in Springfield. They gave me a three month emergency period to get the surgery, and luckily there happened to be an opening within the time limit. Instead of waiting until I was on summer or spring break from school, I had to go by what the insurance companies would allow, which created stress and anxiety. My parents spent hours on the phone with the insurance company just to allow this, and it was a nightmare. I feel like although my experience was an unpleasant one, I was very lucky because I was able to get the procedure done. Many people cannot afford health care payments and have problems finding doctors that will accept Medicaid.

In one of the most significant policies to pass, the new health care bill will hopefully eliminate the stress and demands the insurance companies have, or at least allow for an alternative for people without insurance. The new health care bill allows coverage for children with pre-existing conditions, free preventative care under Medicare, banning of lifetime limits on coverage, prohibiting discrimination based on salary, and a number of other services (http://www.healthreform.gov/reports/keyprovisions.html).

Student responds to "Why Do We Fight"

Reaction Paper # 2

Film- Why Do We Fight?

The film by Eugene Jarecki, Why Do We Fight, that we watched in class touched a sore subject with me. My family is a military family, including myself. My father has fought in multiple wars and my grandfather died in Desert Storm. I do not believe some of what the movie was broadcasting was true. For starters, people claim the United States spends more on the defense discretionary budget then anything else. This may be true, we do spent a lot of money on defense; but it is not always used in the most efficient ways when it gets to our fighting soldiers. In fact, many of the deaths on the American side during our current fight for freedom, are solely because we do not have enough or proper equipment to protect us from the enemy.

I deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom in 2004-2005. While I was there, my platoon lost one female soldier because the truck she was in hit an IED. She would have survived with injuries had her truck been properly equipped with armor. We drove on the roads to and from Kuwait and Iraq for days on end without the proper truck armor for at least the first five months of my deployment. That should of never happened, if in fact we do spend so much money on defense.

Also, I did not like the fact that the movie pointed out, that we have no agreement on this question: Why do we fight? Yes, I believe when there is a reason to go to war to prevent attacks against the U.S. and our allies, then by all means go to war and fight for our freedom. But don't tell our citizens lies about why we are going to war. The movie showed children and adults defending freedom as the reason we went to war, but there were other reasons thrown out as well. For instance, people thought we were fighting Iraq to prevent other attacks on U.S. soil. But shortly after, there was word that we were fighting for cheaper oil, to catch Saddam, and to find weapons of mass destruction. The government lied to the people, and they continue to lie. Will we ever be able to trust the government again? Over a half a million extra people died due to government policy.

While I was deployed, I personally got to witness death and destruction. But I also got to be part of history. The year I was fighting in Iraq was the first year women had the right to vote, December 2005. But this was not true about the women in all Arab countries, but hopefully soon it will happen. I also learned the real reason why the Arabic people have been fighting all these years. They are fighting a religious war, over whose land belongs to who and where the boundaries are. I do not believe this war involves us at all. The government is just wasting money, time, and resources sending more and more troops to a fighting country that will never be happy. The majority of our troops that are dying over there is simply because we got in the way. The women and children that are dying in country are dying at the hands of their own people as well.

The main reason I show "Why Do We Fight?" is because it demonstrates the main competing type of government spending, which is military spending. We spend maybe $800 billion on Social Security, and then nearly $700 billion on health (Medicare, Medicaid, Centers for Disease Control, NIH, etc., and actually much more if we include state contributions to Medicaid), and we spend about $600 billion (actually a bit more) on defense (if we are including Homeland Security, Veteran's Administration, and various other benefits related to defense in addition to the Defense Department's budget). Combined state and federal spending on justice and law enforcement and corrections is perhaps $185-$200 billion. Public spending on education from preschool through higher education is a bit over $900 billion, although most of this is collected and spent at the state level without much of a federal contribution. If we want to allocate more money to social services, crime prevention, interventions to reduce recidivism in convicts released from incarceration, poverty reduction, health, affordable housing, or education, the natural target for cuts would be defense. But, as the film showed, there are powerful economic and political interests that give us policies that continue to fund defense at rates around $600 billion, which may be over twice what we actually need.

Clearly there was a rational argument to invade and occupy Afghanistan and Iraq. There were good rational arguments against each occupation as well. If people really believed Iraq posed a threat to us, and also believed a pre-emptive strike based on this perceived threat was justified, then such beliefs could be used to support the occupation of Iraq. I didn't believe Iraq posed a threat, and I rejected the notion of pre-emptive strikes against countries that aren't directly threatening us, so I demonstrated against the invasion of Iraq. But, even as I did so, I realized that in an ideal international system some sort of multinational coalition would coercively remove the Ba'ath Party and the ruling elites such as Saddam Husain from power in Iraq. I'd like to live in a world were a humanitarian coalition of powerful governments would combine their forces to remove the worst despots and tyrannies from power and give oppressed people a chance to gave better governments replace the totalitarian or murderous regimes that misrule them. So, from that perspective, even if Iraq posed no threat to us, I could hope for the best. But, I expected the worst, because it seemed clear to me that the powers organizing Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom were incompetent, historically ignorant, culturally insensitive, and willfully stupid. I expected them to botch the occupation and alienate the Iraqi people, and many of my fears were confirmed. Thousands of American lives and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives were wasted.

Women probably had a "better" situation relative to men under the Ba'ath regime in the sense that women and men were equally oppressed and enjoyed approximately equal freedoms and rights (what little they had of those). I think our success (and it's a fragile and shaky success, but I hope it takes root and gains strength) was to let Iraqis vote for their political leadership so that the government would be accountable to the people. In the long term, I hope Iraqi women can regain their standing of equality to men (which I recognize had been imperfectly attained under the Ba'ath regime), a standing I believe has been partly lost with the (hopefully temporary) rise of religious fanaticism and literalism and factionalism in Iraq.

I've just read an interesting book that seems to explain how American foreign policy could have much more success against the very real and dangerous threat of murderous death cults masquerading under the guise of Islamic Fundamentalism, and with your experiences in Iraq you might enjoy reading this book. It is An End to Al-Qaeda, and it's written by Malcolm Nance.

You are probably aware that women have been voting in meaningful democratic elections in Lebanon, Algeria, Jordan, and Morocco for decades. Women have had the vote, but elections are relatively meaningless, in most of the other Arab countries (e.g., Egypt, Tunisia), aside from those that don't even have any sort of reasonable elections because royal families or totalitarian single-party dictatorships rule everything (as in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Libya, etc.). The Iraqi elections in 2005 you witnessed were meaningful, and I hope that soon the Iraqi people will be able to enjoy the fruits of universal enfranchisement and free and fair elections, and they will not give up this precious system, bought with so much blood and sacrifice by Iraqis, Americans, and others.

Student is interested in poverty.

Here is a reaction essay a student wrote to review what she had been learning about poverty in some class readings.

Second Reaction Essay

I am very interested in poverty and how to help it, but even more importantly how to prevent it, or help people get away from it. I enjoyed the section we did on poverty and the rates we looked at over time.

From the websites we looked at, the poverty rate in 2006 was 12.3%, which was 36.5 million people (it's up around 13.5% or higher now with the Great Recession). It was interesting how ethnicity seemed to show a trend in poverty. For whites, the poverty rate was 8.2%. For African Americans, the rate was 24.3%. For Asians, the rate was 10.3%. The rates for different ages was also important to notice. For people under 18 years old, the poverty rate was 17.4% equaling 12.8 million people. For people over 18 years old, the poverty rate was 10.8%, so it was lower, but that came out to be 20.2 million people (there are lot more people over 18). The poverty rate for people over age 65 has decreased; it’s under 10%.

Dependency and recipiency was also looked at. On a broad view over time, both dependency and recipiency rates were high in the early to mid 90's and then decreased through 2000. The rates increased again after 2000. Between 1993 and 2004, recipiency rates were: for whites, 8-10%, for African Americans, 26-38%, for Hispanics, 21-34%. The rates continued to go up for all the races, whites being the lowest and African Americans being the highest. For dependency rates, whites ranged from 1.8-3%, African Americans ranged from 8.8-17.8%, and Hispanics ranged from 4.5-11.8%.

More than 50% of single mothers experience poverty for at least one month in a years time. There are many reasons why the mothers face this. One reason single mothers face poverty is because the father doesn't help them with bills and the children, so they are on their own. Childcare is so expensive, that it almost doesn't pay to put them in daycare while at work. Another problem with women trying to support themselves and children on their own is that women only make $0.77 for every $1.00 a man makes on average. Women are typically underpaid for the jobs they can do, because society expects the men to pay the bills. Unfortunately, no one is thinking about the women who are on their own.

There was a group of single mothers who were tracked over a two year period. It was shown that 28% of poor single women receiving welfare (TANF) are poverty leavers, meaning after being in poverty once, they never return to poverty, or at least not for several years. This study showed that 56% of the same female TANF-receiving population are poverty cyclers, meaning they cycle in and out of poverty, maybe out of poverty for a year or some months and then falling back into poverty for a year or some months. The last segment of the poor single TANF-receiving population was poverty returners, and 16% of the these single women stay poor. This last category of long-term poverty-stricken women is generally afflicted with chronic health or mental health problems, although a small fraction of this group must include the notorious welfare cheaters who prefer to collect welfare benefits when they could be working. Still, it’s clear from this study that most people who receive welfare such as TANF are not experiencing steady long-term dependency, and for the fraction that does experience this, only a very small part could be cheating. (see Economic Patterns of Single Mothers Following Their Poverty Exits at http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/07/PovertyExits/ch1.htm for the original 2007 study).

Mark Rank made an interesting statement when he said that between the age of 20-65, two out of five people would use some kind of welfare program. For some people who don't agree with welfare because they think it is abused and a waste of money, I know they would want it if they were in the same situation. I believe it was Mark who said that 58% of Americans would experience poverty. For more than half of Americans to experience poverty, I would think that there would be a lot more people helping out when they can. However, people don't expect that something may happen and send them into poverty, so they don't take preventative measures. There was one myth that I know I have heard before and I believe it is a statement that comes from a lot of people and that is that women on welfare have more kids. It is actually a false statement, and women on welfare have lower birthrates than women not in poverty (when you control for age, as women on welfare tend to be younger, so they are more likely to have children compared to all women of all ages, but less likely to have children than women of the same age who aren’t on welfare). Also, despite the previously reported percentages of welfare use and dependency by race or ethnicity, Mark says the 2 out of 3 people who receive welfare are white. This is true of total numbers because the great majority (about two-thirds) of Americans are white with no Hispanic ethnicity, so even with the lower rates I saw earlier on a different website, with whites being the least likely to be using or dependent upon welfare, there is still a greater total number of whites on welfare.

Another interesting number is that one out of four people in poverty had parents who were on welfare. Generational poverty is one thing that could be prevented with the right education. I suppose that would eliminate 25% of the poverty number.