Saturday, May 5, 2012

School Lunch Program Deserves Support

This is an editorial written by a student.

The commercials on television play slow sad music and show depressing pictures of young children to depict the suffering they are going through because they are hungry.

Often times when I see these commercials I let it play or switch the channel because I did not care to see the problems in America.

After studying the issue of hunger in America more in depth in my classes I have a whole new perspective on the issue.  I now believe that it is a human right to have the means to satisfy their hunger.

There is not one reason that a person should not be given the opportunity to eat, yet according to statistics we have discussed in class, about 1.14% of households will not eat on a given day. As human beings, I think we should have the duty of making sure people are given food to satisfy their need.

Certain programs are put in place to try and ease the suffering these people are going through. One of these programs is SNAP or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. This is set by the government to help families that do not have the ability to pay for food, to purchase food necessary. According to the lessons we discussed during our class, during any given month, around forty million people in the United States, participate in the SNAP program. I think that if the government would pay more attention to the families that apply for SNAP, they would be able to prevent the families from going hungry in the first place. If they did more research on what different problems the families are facing, I feel their situations would be helped and they could be directed in a better way of living.

Another program that the government has put in place is Free and Reduced Lunches for children and teenagers attending school.

This program is a federally assisted meal program that helps families who otherwise could not pay for their children’s food at school.

According to the USDA, the budget for these school meals is $87 billion dollars. Though this seems like a lot of money, to me, I do not feel that this is an adequate amount given the amount of people who go without food in this country.

Knowing that millions of people suffer from food insecurity and very low food insecurity, I feel that the next step it so make more people more aware.

If everyone in America knew the numbers of people who are suffering and could actually see the faces of these people, I feel a big change would come. If people would donate more of their time to help people in need, then maybe, just maybe, less people will go hungry. I know that I now want to do my part, even if it means just donating canned food to a food drive, I want to help people to the best of my ability.


"National School Lunch Program." Web. 03 May 2012. .

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Reaction to Winter's Bone

Here is a student reaction to a film we saw in class.
A few weeks ago, in class we watched a movie: Winter’s Bone. This movie was very eye opening and interesting to me, I never took my eyes off the screen. The movie, Winter’s Bone, encompassed many topics that we have discussed in our class; poverty, substance abuse, housing issues, and family violence, etc. I was very impressed with the number of issues in just one movie. Not only did this film relate to our class so well, but it was eye opening and filled with the anticipation of overcoming the struggles and obstacles of the poverty life.
Along with the issues that correlated with the class, there were social welfare policies that the family could have used to better their lives but they did not take advantage of these helping aids. The family could have been a part of TANF, which would have helped them to buy healthy food instead of relying on their neighbors to be generous enough to share. Since the mother was ill and unable to work, the family could have benefitted from SSI, the mother could have gotten a better medication that actually helped her. I believe where the family needed the most help was taking care of the mother. Ree was just 17 years old and she was not in school, but she was taking on the parent role and taking care of her own mother.
In the movie, Ree and her younger brother Sonny see a neighbor skinning an animal outside. Sonny said they should ask the neighbors if they would share. Ree replied with “Never ask for what oughta be offered.” This shows the audience that the family does not ask for help, but expects other to see they are suffering and help them out. It astonishes me that there are families out there like this; that need help but have too much “dignity” to ask for it. If I was in a situation like Ree’s family was I would try to get every social welfare policy that I could to help my family out. But one has to think the type of environment that family lives in; out in the country, shooting squirrels for dinner, not having a car, and having a young adult stay home to do household duties rather than go to school. Some of the families that fit into that category do not want anything to do with the government or government funded aids, it is just the way they were brought up. One cannot judge another’s family until they walk in their shoes and seen what they have gone through.
It is sad to think that there are families just like Ree’s out there that need help. These families are struggling on a day-to-day basis. This is where a social worker’s duty comes in.
 And, as her father was a drug manufacturer, cooking Crystal Meth in labs, this is exactly the sort of family that would be considered undeserving by many observers, although the father was murdered when his extended family and neighbors suspected he was cooperating with police and informing on them to reduce jail time, so perhaps this fact might have reduced prejudices against the family.  

If this family was seen by a social worker, I’m sure the family would be standoffish at first, but then realize that they are there to actually help the family and not take the children away. A good social worker would see that Ree is 17 years old, the children would be better off staying with their sister to care for them rather than be split apart. Overall, this movie was a very touching one in many aspects; family bonding and loyalty just to name a couple. I am glad I got the chance to see this movie; it opened my eyes to situations that I have never personally been in.

No Kid Hungry Campaign

Here is a student essay describing a policy or program. 

On March 14, 2012, Governor Patrick Quinn announced a new partnership in efforts to end childhood hunger in Illinois. A 2011 report from Feeding America found that more than 745,000 children in Illinois are at risk of hunger. Families are struggling to put food on the tables and provide nutritious meals. The organizations, Share Our Strength and Illinois Commission to End Hunger gathered at Parker Elementary Community Academy in Chicago to announce the Commission’s report and start off the Illinois No Kid Hungry campaign. The campaign will work to help teach more families about federally funded programs to help assist in hunger needs such as; school breakfasts and summer meals which provide children with a healthy start they need. They will also help families learn how to cook healthy yet affordable meals for their families. Share Our Strength and the Greater Chicago Food Depository have joined together to begin the Illinois No Kid Hungry Campaign. With the help of their sponsors; Jimmy Dean, Walmart, Arby’s Foundation, and supporter- Weight Watchers, Illinois will soon be looking at a shrinking number of children who are hungry.
Any school that is a public school, nonprofit private school, or a residential child care institution can choose to take part in the School Breakfast Program. More than 770,000 students are eligible for the free or reduced breakfasts and lunches at school, yet less than one half of the students are participating in this program. This means children are coming to school hungry because there is not enough food to eat at home. Hungry children are less likely to perform to their highest potential in the classrooms. Also, less than 15% of the children who are eligible for the summer meals receive them. Illinois is actually in the top five states that have actually lost federal funding due to low participation rates for these services. The young children of our communities need good nutritious meals in order to grow physically and keep up with their academics to their full potential. Through the help from Share Our Strength, children who are in need will be enrolled in federal nutrition programs and families will be taught how to cook healthy and affordable meals. The families will learn how to select nutritious, yet low-cost ingredients and prepare meals in ways to ensure the best nourishment for their family.
 With the help from Illinois Commission to End Hunger and No Kid Hungry students and their families will be better aware of the programs available. With the generous help from numerous not-for-profit programs, the people of Illinois can receive help without using any state money or without raising taxes. This is a big relief that the state is not going further into debt with this Commission to End Hunger program. Share Our Strength and No Kid Hungry campaigns in 16 other states besides Illinois. These states include Maryland and Colorado, where it has been an incredible success. In Maryland, this campaign has helped to increase the number of children eating summer meals by 7.5%. In Colorado, has increased the participation in school breakfast program by 430,000 more meals served. It looks like Illinois is on the same road to success as these other states are to end hunger for the children.

Recognizing Mental Health Symptoms in Adolescents

This is a letter a student wrote to a state representative about a bill that would dictate to school districts that they must have a certain type of in-service training for teachers, counselors, and social workers:

I am writing to you in regards to HB4495. I think that it is very important that school guidance counselors, teachers, school social workers, and any other school employee who works with students in grades 7 through 12 should be trained to identify the warning signs of mental illness and suicidal behavior.

I have been a Springfield citizen for 22 years now and I believe this bill has been a long time need for our society. Children spend most of their time at school, and their teachers see more of them than their own parents do. Teachers and other school personnel should have been trained to recognize these symptoms outlined in HB4495 a long time ago. I believe this bill could help prevent a lot of suffering and make a big difference in the number of teen suicides. Before HB4495, these employees were only trained to identify the warning signs of suicidal behavior. With this in-service training on the basic factors of mental illness outlined in HB4495; the counselors, teachers, and other school employees will now be able to recognize the symptoms of mental illness and know how to approach situations.

Many people who develop mental illness show symptoms by the time they are 14, that is why I believe HB4495 has a very good focal age group. Not only are these school personnel being trained to recognize the warning signs of mental illness and suicidal behavior, they are also being taught the appropriate intervention and referral techniques to handle situations. Knowing what resources are available will be key to success. According to HB4495, at least once every two years an in-service training program for school personnel will be held. It is important to keep the training up-to-date with the changing resources available. I believe the in-service training should be held once every year at the beginning of the school year. With the help of HB4495, school personnel will be better able to communicate with youth victims of domestic or sexual violence, and refer them to agencies or programs.

I believe with bills like HB4495, there would be a less likely chance of a school shooting happening. It seems like at least every month there is some school shooting or a threat. When the story comes out, we always talk about the warning signs the classmates saw, but now with this in-service training teachers and school personnel will hopefully see those warning signs as well. This bill could also help the suicide rate from bullying go down as well. I think that it would be a wise decision if other states adopted this bill. All schools should have guidance counselors, teachers, school social workers, and any other school employee who works with students in grades 7 through 12 trained to identify the warning signs of mental illness and suicidal behavior.

I do have one concern though, how will this in-service training be funded and how much would it cost? Although I believe this bill is necessary, it is also necessary to keep in mind the struggling economy.

Letter supporting the Hospital Uninsured Patient Discount Act

This is an example of a letter to an elected representative or executive on a social welfare topic.  This student has written about a proposed law to force hospitals to lower prices for uninsured patients. The law was, as I understand it, proposed because many hospitals have a policy of raising prices for the uninsured.
I am writing to support the Hospital Uninsured Patient Discount Act SB1881. I am a junior at the University of Illinois- Springfield studying in the Social Work Program. I am urging you to lobby for this bill because it provides a discount to hospital bills of uninsured people in Illinois. Most people who do not have health insurance simply cannot afford health insurance. Obviously, if that person cannot afford insurance, it will be very hard to them to afford a monumental bill for services provided at a hospital. Most people, because they lack the funds, will not pay the bill that they did accrue because they are being charged a very high price for services that they needed, most likely in an emergency situation. By applying a discount to uninsured persons’ hospital bill, the patients will be more likely to pay their bill. By discounting the hospital bill, hospitals will be more likely to receive money for their services because fewer bills would have to be sent to collection agencies (where they would settle for far less than even the discounted price).
You may be concerned that by discounting the prices for procedures performed by healthcare professionals, those professionals would not get paid enough for their services. But, that’s not really the case because healthcare services are already so overpriced that cutting the cost of treatment won’t be unfair.
Every person who is uninsured and qualifies for the discount, should receive the discount, even residents who are undocumented. It’s a shame that there is anyone in this country that has to go without health insurance; it’s the least we could do as a state to give those people, who can’t afford health insurance, a discounted price. Just think about people you know, I’m sure you know someone right around you, who does not have health insurance. You would hate for them to lose their house or mode of transportation because they couldn’t afford their hospital bills they accrued during an emergency. I don’t think anyone would want that, that’s why it’s vital for you to support this bill.
Thank you so much for your time and I hope you will support the Hospital Uninsured Patient Discount Act SB1881.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Student paper on aging

Here is a short descriptive paper by a student.

Defining Aging

    Obviously, part of life involves growing older. It is a process that some people dread, and other people embrace and accept. Consequently, when it comes to defining aging and at what point someone is “old” there is a lack of clarity. However, a couple distinctions have been made to create categories. One category is considered the “young”; this consists of people ages 65-74 and the people in this group are still fairly active and do not experience very many restrictions (Popple & Leighninger, 2011).  The other category is termed the “old old;” the individuals in this group may be considered frail, and suffer from serious health issues, and are in need of a variety of social services (Popple & Leighninger, 2011).

Historical Context & Policy Development

    Perceptions of old age and the elderly have shifted throughout American history. Early in our history, the elderly were seen as an asset to a developing nation  (Popple & Leighninger, 2011). Although the elderly were held in a little more esteem than they may be today, it was still generally known that old age brought on pain. The shift to a more negative view of the elderly occurred by the mid-1800’s. There are a couple different thoughts as to what brought on this negative perception. One reason is that new technology was developing, and the knowledge that the elderly had was perceived as outdated (Popple & Leighninger, 2011). The other thought as to the change is credited to the intellectual shift of Social Darwinism, which emphasized the survival of the fittest (Popple & Leighninger, 2011). At this time, science and technology were providing answers to people about life, which previously came from the older generations. Therefore, the ideas of the elderly became less important.

By the 1890’s, a large portion of the elderly lived in big cities, which is where there was a perceived welfare problem growing (Popple & Leighninger, 2011). It was in the 1800’s that retirement  programs were developed; the elderly were seen as less productive workers, and retirement pensions allowed the companies to pay off their older workers (Popple & Leighninger, 2011). Due to a lack of care from adult children, and resources, the number of elderly who were institutionalized at this time increased (Popple & Leighninger, 2011). 

When the great depression struck in 1929, the elderly were particularly at risk, which influenced Roosevelt’s New Deal welfare programs such as Social Security (Popple & Leighninger, 2011). Eventually, a program was established that assisted the needy elderly and established a social insurance for people 65 years old and older; this was known as the Social Security Act of 1935 (Popple & Leighninger, 2011).  The Social Security Act 1935 was based on an idea that people “paid into” this fund throughout their working lives (both employers and employees).  Over time, various changes were made to this act in order to include more people, which bring us to today in which almost all retired people qualify (Popple & Leighninger, 2011).

Another policy that has been developed was the Older Americans Act of 1965. This act brought together a partnership of federal, state, local public and private agencies that provided various services for the elderly (Popple & Leighninger, 2011).  Additionally, in 1970 Congress created the Supplementary Security Income program which took over the old age assistance programs that had been run by the state, and provides services for the needy elderly (Popple & Leighninger, 2011). Today, there is concern in regards to the sustainability of these programs, especially social security.  The fear is that the government is giving out more money than they are taking in, which would mean Social Security would run out.  However, there is debate as to how dire the situation really is.  Other analysts note that the baby boomer generation has earned more than their parents; therefore they have accumulated more savings (Popple & Leighninger, 2011).

Aging. (2011). In Social Work, Social Welfare, and American Society (8th ed., pp. 542-575). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

Profiling of African Americans by Law Enforcement

This is a student's reaction essay, the sort of thing where a student spends an hour just writing whatever they like about an issue connected with social welfare and policy:

    Racial profiling has long been a problem in our society. In many ways we have become better within the past twenty years or so. Unfortunately, our society still has a long way to go as you will see from the examples within this paper of the racial profiling that African Americans still endure today by law enforcement.

    Racial profiling can be defined “as an act of enforcement by police officers that are more motivated by racial bias of any reasonable suspicion or probable cause that may exist under the circumstances. It is also referred to as the practice of targeting African Americans for traffic stops because the officer(s) seem to believe that blacks are more likely to engage in some kind of criminal activity” (Grant & Byers, 2009). This practice of racial profiling is not only done by police officers, but also by various others forms of law enforcement. “Law enforcement agent includes a person acting in a policing capacity for public or private purposes. This includes security guards at department stores, airport security agents, police officers, or, more recently, airline pilots who have ordered passengers to disembark from flights, because the passengers' ethnicity aroused the pilots' suspicions. Members of each of these occupations have been accused of racial profiling.” (ACLU, 2005).

Those committing racial profiling are more numerous than most would expect. Most individuals would only expect police officers and those working in airports to racially profile. We can see now that this is not the case. Those of the African American race do not only experience racial profiling in their cars on our highways by law enforcement, but also while on a simple shopping excursion. “The targeting of shoppers/business patrons of color for suspicion of shoplifting by private security and other employees has disproportionately affected both working and prominent African-American women. TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey said she was refused buzz-in entry to a store even after seeing white women admitted and making a second attempt. After calling from a pay phone and being assured the store was in fact open, a third try failed as well” (ACLU, 2005).

This is blatant racial profiling. Many prominent individuals are stopped, searched, or suspected of crimes based solely on their color of their skin. The article written by Harris states that no matter what a minority races status of life, transportation, or their willingness to abide by the law is they are subject to being stopped by police and their race used as “evidence” against them. (Harris, 1999). Another article also mentioned this same situation; they referred to it as racial vulnerability.  “As a result of racial vulnerability, a black man is more likely to have several encounters with police. During these encounters, the officer(s) may ask the man to show his identification for proof, have him explain where he is traveling to and from, and the officer(s) also may ask if he uses, distributes, or even manufactures any drugs.” (Grant & Byers, 2009).

Racial profiling largest stage is on our roads. On the interstates and highways of the United States is where some of the largest violations of minorities’ rights are violated. Many wonder if this is such a big problem, why is it continuing. Surely our laws provide some protection. In a way they do. “One of the core principles of the Fourth Amendment is that the police cannot stop and detain an individual without some reason – probable cause, or at least reasonable suspicion – to believe that he or she is involved in criminal activity. But recent Supreme Court decisions allow the police to use traffic stops as a pretext in order to "fish" for evidence. Both anecdotal and quantitative data show that nationwide, the police exercise this discretionary power primarily against African Americans and Latinos.” (Harris, 1999). The law enforcement of our nation often abuse this practice. They will stop and search anyone based on their color to “fish” for evidence as Harris put it. Most often the law enforcement officials are not “fishing” for evidence because they believe that individual to have some sort of contraband because of their actions. Rather they search them and “fish” for evidence because they are racially profiling them. 

Racial profiling does not just affect those believed to be committing crimes based on their skin color. It also affects those trying to assert basic human rights such as voting in a presidential election. “Untold numbers, estimated to be in the thousands, were not given affidavit ballots that would preserve their votes pending resolution of any qualification issues. Even the state NAACP president was denied one until she stated her willingness to be jailed over the issue.

Most serious were the hundreds of reports, in African-American communities, of state police harassment of voters at polling places and traffic checkpoints, where they lined up cars, checking driving papers and inspecting vehicles. Racial profiling at its worst, this tactic appeared to be designed to delay and intimidate voters of color.” (ACLU, 2005). These individuals were purposely targeted because of the color of their skin. Many were denied their American right to vote. This was in the 2000 presidential election. Less than 12 years ago members of the African American race were being treated very similar to how they were treated when they first received the right to vote. In this election they were not terrorized by the Klu Klux Klan but by our own law enforcement officers.

    The age of an individual being racial profiled by our law enforcement is one thing that law enforcement officers do not discriminate on. Young or old they may stop you simply because of the color of your skin. Some youth in Michigan learned this first hand. " In April, 2001, the ACLU joined a suit against Eastpointe, Michigan , representing 21 young African-American men who were stopped by the police while riding their bikes there. The ACLU argued that the bicyclists were stopped in this predominantly white suburb of Detroit because of their race and not because they were doing anything wrong. In a 1996 memorandum to the Eastpointe City Manager, the former police chief stated that he instructed his officers to investigate any black youths riding through Eastpointe subdivisions. Police searched many of young men and, in some cases, seized and later sold their bicycles. Police logs and reports in Eastpointe have identified over 100 incidents between 1995 and 1998 in which African-American youth were detained.” (ACLU, 2005).

The state police of Maryland took no pity on an elderly African American couple when they pulled them over and searched them extensively. “In Maryland, in 1997, Charles and Etta Carter, an elderly African American couple from Pennsylvania, were stopped by Maryland State Police on their 40th wedding anniversary. The troopers searched their car and brought in drug-sniffing dogs. During the course of the search, their daughter's wedding dress was tossed onto one of the police cars and, as trucks passed on I-95, it was blown to the ground. Mrs. Carter was not allowed to use the restroom during the search because police officers feared that she would flee. Their belongings were strewn along the highway, trampled and urinated on by the dogs. No drugs were found and no ticket was issued.” (Harris, 1999). Law enforcement officers treated these elderly couple like criminals. They had done nothing wrong, had done nothing to instigate the stop other than ‘driving while black’.

    How long will we as a society stand for this? To what point will we watch individuals be treated in such a vile, unconstitutional manner? Many of these people are hardworking, good, honest people who are being judged and violated with searches of their property simply because of the color of their skin. As we all know an individual’s race does not make them a criminal. We need to instill this idea in our children and fellow human beings. Everyone deserves a fair shake in life. 

Grant, K., & Byers, T. (2009). Missouri western state university. Retrieved from
In Text (Grant & Byers, 2009)

Harris, D. (1999, June 7). American civil liberties union. Retrieved from
In text (Harris, 1999)

ACLU. (2005, Nov. 23). American civil liberties union. Retrieved from
In text (ACLU, 2005)

Minimal Parenting

Here is something a student wrote on the topic of minimal parenting and foster care:

Minimal Parenting
    Minimal parenting is exactly that; minimal. We need to hold parents to a higher standard than what we currently do. The definition of minimal parenting is a lengthy but common sense definition. “Minimum parenting standards means that a parent or other person responsible for the child’s welfare sees that the child is adequately fed, clothed appropriately for the weather conditions, provided with adequate shelter, protected from physical, mental and emotional harm, and provided with necessary medical care and education required by law” (Chapter 5 Assessment of Child Neglect).

    In the modern age in which we live more parents can be seen not living up to these simple standards. A case worker I personally know, we will call her "Alexandria Hall," recently mentioned that the Logan County is maxed out on foster homes. My mother, who was in on the conversation, asked why have you run out of foster homes? Alexandria responded that with the economy going farther down the drain by the day more parents were either unable to meet the minimal parenting standards or were just plain choosing to give up their children. She also asked my parents to help drum up business so to speak for future foster homes. Alexandria quoted “We have seen a steady rise in the termination of parental rights over the past few years; with a spike in the last year” (Hall). When parental rights are terminated many times the children in that case are adopted by their acting foster parents. Since only six children are allowed per foster home when foster parents adopt them, they usually pull them out of the foster care program (Hall). As each year brings fewer return foster homes new ones must be sought out and trained. This takes time, money, and willing future foster families—all of which our world is short on. Due to the shortage of foster homes, more foster children are being put into group homes. At these group homes they usually lack individual attention, struggle with school work, and do not open up about their needs and the services that they may need. (Hall). How can all of this be stopped? If parents would just simply; parent. They have no excuse not to. Many parents think that because of their low income they have the right to abandon their children. They do not! There are government help programs such as WIC, Link Card, Section Eight Housing, and many others. Granted no one likes the idea of accepting government help, but if it means you can provide for your child; you must accept this and do it. The needs of your child come before your pride. You must accept this responsibility and do everything in your power to provide for them.

    Off of my personal soapbox now and onto the facts. One major issue is knowledge or lack of it when it comes to parenting. “Lack of research of what constitutes acceptable parenting is a concern. There is no standard for assessment in these matters” (Budd, Felix, Sweet, Saul, and Carlton 2006). There are very few guidelines for parents to meet. This is why we need to look out for the future of these children. We need to look at the capacity of the parents over the long term, as opposed to what the parents may do over short term with the help of supervision or supports. Short term fails to recognize the lifelong implications to maltreatment and neglect, the issues that may have brought the children into care.

After being brought into care the biological parents are reviewed according to Professor Budd’s process which involves the following standards and formats:

Describe characteristics and patterns of a parent's functioning in adult and child rearing roles, explain possible reasons for abnormal or problematic behavior, and the potential for change, Identify person-based and environmental conditions likely to positively or negatively influence the behavior, Describe children's functioning, needs, and risks in relation to the parent's skills, and deficits ,Provide directions for intervention. (Barish 2). 

There is a large lack of research on foster children and the effects on them. You get some like my foster siblings who do not wish to ever return to their biological parents. Then you have children like my father’s foster brother who, no matter the abuse he had suffered, he still wished to return to his biological parents. He had a very distinct loyalty to his biological parents.

These children usually do not know how to cope with the range of emotions they feel. This is most likely due to the fact that they have never been taught how to deal with simple and vast emotions by their parents, who also most likely never learned. Just as these parents have never learned to deal with their emotions, neither have they learned and exhibited the basic skills of minimal parenting. Minimal parenting is an interlocking system. Cultures, relationships, social stresses, and stability are all major factors in the parenting role. Does “minimal parenting” equip parents with enough coping strategies? Are they taught how to problem solve, set clear family rules, values, beliefs, and goals? Will these parents be able to problem-solve, deal with crisis, be flexible and balanced? These are all unanswered questions in the social work field. These are also the questions that spark the great debates over whether biological parents should be given their children back or should have their rights terminated and custody awarded to someone who can adequately provide for their children’s needs, not only physically, but emotionally as well.

    Minimal parenting may be an easy way out; to cycle children out of the system. This system truly breaks my heart. As a mother I love my child and know I will not only continue to meet the minimal parenting standards, but I will exceed them. My child will always have love, nurturing, and my emotional support to the fullest. All children deserve this no matter their circumstances right?

Works Citied

Barish, Noah. Admissiblity of Parenting Capacity Evaluations. 2009. 28 Aug. 2010.

Hall, Alexandria. Personal Interview with Case Worker. 27 Aug. 2010.

Spring, Beth. Foster PRIDE/Adopt PRIDE. 2003.

Chapter 5 Assessment of Child Neglect. 28 Aug. 2010.

Student reaction essay on hunger.

    From when I can remember, I have the same routine everyday: take a shower, eat breakfast, and brush my teeth. Throughout each and every day I consume various snacks along with having lunch and dinner.  When I begin to worry about the certain things I deal with in life, I have never had to worry when my next source of food will be. I can wake up every morning fully assured that I will have a meal on my plate. To know that there are people who do not have this luxury in the world, let alone in the United States, is heartbreaking. We need to implement policies that ensure no one should have to go hungry.

    The world is facing a hunger crisis unlike anything else it has seen in nearly 50 years. Every day almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes. That's one child every 5 seconds. Every year 15 million children die of hunger. The World Bank estimates that the spike in global food prices in 2008, followed by the global economic recession in 2009 and 2010 has pushed between 100-150 million people into poverty. Suffering from poverty results in one of many things: less money for food.

    A recent study given to us in one of our lectures stated that 1.4 million people go a day without eating because of the lack of resources to obtain food. We also learned that 64 million people suffer from very low food security. Of these people that had very low food security, 20% of them went a whole day with nothing to eat. I immediately thought to myself that there is no way these statistics can be true. I eat meals on a daily basis, why isn’t everyone else in the world.

    Nearly one in four people, live on less than $1 per day, while billionaires have assets exceeding the combined annual incomes of countries with 45 percent of the world's people.  While the military continues to spend money, one missile could feed a school full of children every day for 5 years. I strongly believe that hunger and race are intertwined in the United States. In 1991, 46% of African-American children were hungry as compared to 16% of white children. The Indian subcontinent has nearly half the world's hungry people. Africa and the rest of Asia together have approximately 40% and the remaining hungry people are found in Latin America and other parts of the world. About 183 million children weigh less than they should for their age.

    I never thought twice about how fortunate I am to have the luxury of eating. I always thought we all had to eat to survive, but 16.1% of people in the world are malnourished! This statistic is extremely high and should have never been this high in the first place. I feel since the United States is such a strong and powerful country, we should have the power to feed everyone. One of the Millennium Development Goals in the U.N. is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. This goal should be implemented throughout the world and quickly! Providing the food and nourishment that is needed to maintain overall good health is a responsibility each person owes another.

The Curse of Womanhood

An example of a student reaction essay.
            Diversity presents individuals all around the world with various difficulties. Race, age, gender, socioeconomic class, and ability level can all affect the way an individual is treated. One group that has faced many challenges throughout history is women. The right to vote, fighting against stereotypes and societal prescribed gender roles, and abuse are just a few of the struggles women have endured over time. Decades have gone by and yet women still struggle everyday to obtain equal footing with men. Even in the modern world, even though women have made progress, there are still obstacles to be faced.
            As a female, I hold very strong beliefs toward women’s rights. Growing up in a patriarchal society has not shaped me into a woman who has dinner ready for her husband when he gets off work or a woman who keeps “her place” as I have heard many times. I have spent many years of my life trying to defend the notion that I am a strong capable female. Out of best intentions, I have had a very overprotective family. Since I began dating, I have heard comments such as “why don’t you let Jesse do that?” or “Jesse can do that for you!” when I have tried to do something that requires the slightest amount of muscle. When I drive home alone at night everyone worries about me and tells me a thousand times to be careful as though I have less driving ability simply because I’m a woman. However, I have been lucky in that I have not suffered emotional, sexual, or physical abuse at the hands of a man as many women have. 
            In addition to the gender role expectations and sexist attitudes I have faced, I will continue to struggle because of my sex on a daily basis. I will certainly make less than my male counterpart. This is mostly because I have chosen to be a social worker, but is it the case that social workers make less because it is a mostly female dominated field? In addition to my career choice, I will also make less because I will one day become a mother. The “reproduction of labor” will cause me to miss work, in turn losing more money. If I had chosen another field, I may have experienced even worse consequences, such as discrimination in a male dominated field.
            Along with the problem of lower wages for women comes the recent trend of the feminization of poverty. What this means is that more women are poor or in poverty than men. This has come with many changes including more single parent families. Since many single parents are women, many women are raising their families on one income. This obviously means they are making less and many are falling into poverty.
            The question is, how do we make life better for women. This is a very complex issue and many solutions have been proposed with various opponents and proponents of each. It seems that solving the feminization of poverty would include raising wages for women, but this may not have enough impact and will take a long time to accomplish. Some have suggested that the solution to all of the problems of the feminization of poverty would include another source of income in the home. It has been proposed that we should instate programs that teach women how to find men. There are a great number of things wrong with this proposal. Rather than teaching women how to be good mates, why are we not focusing on creating an equal society? Another action that should be taken to improve the lives of women includes teaching males and females both how to have healthy relationships.
            Another reason for the feminization of poverty is the fact that more people are having children out of wedlock. Rather than focusing on how to create the perfect wife, maybe it would be helpful to encourage men to take on more of a profound role in parenting. This may help since many women are the sole caregiver of their children and some men refuse to help. It seems that in society women who refuse to care for their children are much more stigmatized than men who choose not to be in their child’s life.
            In order to improve the lives of women everywhere, we must convert from a patriarchal society to an equal society where both men and women are appreciated. We must teach our children to value all others regardless of race, age, or gender. In class, we proposed that it may be helpful to have social workers in grade school to teach relationships. I feel it would be great to focus on healthy relationships in school more than what the focus currently is. This general focus on mutual respect and understanding in relationships may help society in many ways by helping individuals be better mates, better parents, and may even help reduce the incidence of bullying.      

The Adoption and Safe Families Act

An example of a student descriptive paper.
            Within all classes, races, and statuses there is present the problem of child abuse and neglect. For decades now professionals and citizens have been debating over how to manage this problem and protect the children affected. While now most people agree that there should be some intervention, some are still hesitant about allowing the government to intervene in private family life. Among those who do believe government has a right to intervene, there is still question about how.  Some argue that the best solution is to remove children from homes deemed to be damaging to their welfare. This is called out-of-home placement. Others argue for family preservation. With this model, services are provided to the family in order to better care for children as to prevent out-of-home placement or to speed reunification. One attempt to reconcile these differing viewpoints is the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997.
            In addition to considering the human cost of not implementing such a program, it is important to evaluate the financial cost of such a program. According to the Child Welfare League of America, the Adoption and Safe Families Act allowed a budget of three hundred and five million dollars for the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program for the fiscal year of 2001. This program was previously known as the Family Preservation and Support Services Program. While a portion of this budget goes toward research and evaluation, it also includes reunification services such as counseling and substance abuse treatment.
            Also according to the Child Welfare League of America, the Adoption and Safe Families Act authorized twenty million dollars for each fiscal year between 1999 and 2003 for states that increase their adoptions from the previous fiscal years. This portion of the act is meant to give the incentive of encouraging adoption which aids in the goal of permanency placement. Permanency as part of the Adoption and Safe Families Act is meant to give children stability and permanent homes. Also as part of reaching this goal, the act established a timeline for terminating parental rights and determining permanent placement of the child.
            It is difficult to put a number on the amount of people affected or helped by the Adoption and Safe Families Act. This act applies to families who are going through crisis or have been referred to a child welfare agency. According to the U.S. Children’s Bureau (2012), more than two hundred fifty thousand children enter foster care each year. Although these children are the ones most affected by the act, their entire families are affected by the policies of the act. The people that get services through the Adoption and Safe Families Act receive these services as part of the foster care and reunification or adoption process. These services have been integrated into such systems and some programs such as substance abuse treatment may be mandated in order for a parent to prevent termination of rights and to initiate reunification.
            In order to determine how well the Adoption and Safe Families Act is performing, one must consider his or her own perception of success. According to the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute (2002), foster care adoptions increased greatly from 1996 to 2000. They also estimate that the Adoption and Safe Families Act resulted in an additional thirty-four thousand adoptions from 1998 to 2000. This means a large increase in the number of children in permanent homes rather than foster care placements. If one believes in the importance of permanent placements, the program was certainly successful through that time period. Others believe that the immediacy in finding permanent placements has led to the destruction of families. Regardless of one’s own opinion, the Adoption and Safe Families Act led to great change in the child welfare system, particularly the areas of foster care and adoption.

Child Welfare League of America. Summary of the adoption and safe families act of 1997. Retrieved from
U.S. Children’s Bureau (2012). Meet the children. Retrieved from
The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute (2002). Foster care facts. Retrieved from

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Reaction Essay on our duty to help others.

This is an example of a student reaction essay.

An interesting question was purposed in the packet of questions we were given in class to me. This question was what obligations does society have towards the poverty stricken?

During class we had an interesting discussion about this question and it stuck with me for most of the following week. It is a very difficult question to answer because there are so many different opinions, and ways to go about it. I believe that people are definitely morally obligated to provide for the less fortunate. Sadly in America and countries all over the world that is often not the case. Too many people go hungry at night or worry about how they are going to pay for the pricy bills they receive.
I have always believed that one truly does not understand another person’s situation until they have, as it is said, walked a mile in their shoes. By this I mean, unless a person has gone through the situation like losing a job and not being able to pay a bill or becoming disabled in one way or another and not being able to work again. In these situations or any other unpleasant situation it is necessary to lend a helping hand.
In the economy today, if people were not given a helping hand, they would be out on the streets or worse. No help would also cause isolation because there would be no concern about others’ well-being.

As I have grown up and created my own values and beliefs the most important to me is to lend a helping hand to others. This value is how I chose to go in the direction of Social Work. The social workers choose to make a career out of helping others and giving support to those who need it. I understand that in some cases it is hard to give help to people, and that there are some who abuse the help, but no one who needs help should be penalized for what a few people have done. Everyone should be given a chance to have a happy life, and if that means that someone helped them get that life, then that is perfectly fine.

I am a Christian, and my faith is a major force behind my belief to be a helping person. In the Bible it even talks about our duty to help others, for example in the parable of a Certain Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 12: 16-21). God sent His only son to die on the cross for the sins of the world. That is one of the ultimate sacrifices in my eyes, and if God can do that, then people should owe it to each other to try to help each other. That is, Jesus and His sacrifice should be a motivational example to all of us. We as people must remember that we need to treat others they way we would like to be treated.

Reaction essay on religion and social work.

This is a reaction a student wrote about religion and social work.  I thought it a good example of what Christian students might write when they consider social work's religious roots and the tensions between secular and religious approaches to helping others. 
Social work has been rooted in religion since the very beginning. Specifically I am focusing on Christianity. However, other religions also address social welfare. Within the Old Testament, one finds a variety of practices and commandments to care for the poor; the textbook pointed out the practices such as hospitality, gleaning, education of orphans, and visiting the ill (Popple, 2011). Throughout the scriptures, one can find that God is forming His people to live as a countercultural example to the dominant society. The distinguished Old Testament exegete and renowned biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann eloquently addresses this in his book, The Prophetic Imagination. Brueggemann describes the reign of King Solomon in three elements of the dominant culture. The three elements were affluence, oppressive social policy, and static religion (Brueggemann, 2001). The Mosaic laws were countercultural to these elements because they were laws of equality, politics of justice, and the religion of God’s freedom (Brueggemann, 2001). There is not enough time to go into depth on each of those, but ultimately the point is that the way of life for the Israelites was not merely to do these ‘charitable acts’ because it was just the right thing to do, but rather it was to establish God’s kingdom. This pattern of living countercultural continues throughout scripture within the New and Old Testament, and always contains the purpose of establishing the Kingdom of God, and that comes through the commandments to love and serve people(Surprised by Hope by New Testament Scholar N.T. Wright discusses this quite well). 
As I was reading the chapter on religion and social work I felt there was a pattern in regards to the motivation of the church helping people, which I think correlated to the different movements of thought in society. As society became more secularized, social welfare programs began to detach themselves from the church. As the text book was explaining the secularization of society, it mentioned that in the early years of social work the charity organization societies believed that poverty was a result of, “… a lack of abstinence, diligence, and thrift among the poor- all moral failings” (Popple, 2011). The text book goes on to explain that because of the churches attributing poverty to moral failings, social work became more secularized because it became known that these were not the causes of poverty (Popple, 2011). 
Unfortunately, during this time, I believe that the church had misguided theological thought. Predominantly, I believe the misguided thought was that the point of Christianity was to get to heaven. Although I do believe heaven has a role, I do not believe it is the entire point/purpose of Christianity but rather the point is to build up the kingdom of God now, and to be a foreshadowing of what the new creation will look like. This all being said, I do believe that the church should be involved in social welfare because God has called us to be a people who serve and love the poor. As a Christian who is a social worker, at times it can feel like Christianity and Social Work are clashing because there seems to be a constant tension between the secularization of social work and its religious roots. However, I find reconciliation in the fact that I am called to love and accept people. Therefore, whether I am having to present the option of abortion or work with someone who is homosexual, I do not feel that I need to directly have to state my beliefs or force them on anyone (I would not want someone to do that to me, so why would I do that to someone else). Rather, if I can treat every client in a loving and accepting manner, then at least for the time I am with them, I have allowed them to experience the love of God. As St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary use words.”

Reaction to Mark Rank and poverty

Here is a student reaction essay about an article about the research of Mark Rank.

In the first few weeks of class, we have talked a great deal about the issue of poverty. We have discussed how many people in America are currently living in poverty, how poverty is affecting people worldwide, and what our personal views on this situation are. One of the articles provided for reading on this topic comes from the Washington University in St. Louis magazine. The article discusses research on poverty conducted by Mark Rank, who is a professor of Social Work at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis.
In the beginning of the article, Ranks poses a challenge to readers. He asks everyone to close their eyes for a moment and to imagine what “poor” people look like. He then asks what images came to mind; was in an image of a woman with several children counting food stamps in the grocery store line? A person of color who lacks the desire to work hard in order to get out of poverty? One of the main goals of Rank’s research is to debunk common misconceptions about people living in poverty. For example, many believe that people who are living on welfare have a lot of children. Rank’s research disproves this. His research found that the birthrates of women who are living in poverty are slightly less than the overall rate. Another myth on poverty Rank’s research disproved is the myth that most welfare recipients are inner-city African Americans. According to his studies, two-thirds of people who receive welfare are white. More whites receive welfare than blacks overall. His research also tells us that welfare is not commonly passed on from generation to generation. Rank found that only 1 out of 4 welfare recipients had parents who also received welfare benefits.
I found this article very fascinating. I think Rank’s research provides a great deal of information with statistical evidence to disprove common misconceptions about poverty. It is very important that people are properly informed about what is actually going on, not just being constantly bombarded with false information.  I think people who are not living in poverty are afraid to hear that all of the typical myths about poverty and people who receive welfare benefits, because the myths give them a feeling of comfort because the myths tell them that people living in poverty are different than them. They either “brought it upon themselves” or grew up in a family that lived in poverty and they are continuing the cycle. If they are “different” from people living in poverty, then they think they could never end up in that situation. I also really like how Rank points out that many people think of people living in poverty as being “over there”, far away from where they are. I agree with Rank’s reason for why some people in middle and upper class think this way. It’s because they feel less guilty and don’t feel like they have any obligation to help them. Overall, this article was very informative and I think even though it is not very long, I think people can get a lot out of it.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Reaction Paper on Food

Here is a decent reaction paper on hunger:

Ban Ki-Moon, the former United Nations General Secretary, wrote in a March 12, 2008 editorial (available at the Washington Post, editorial:

This is the new face of hunger, increasingly affecting communities that had previously been protected. Inevitably, it is the "bottom billion" who are hit hardest: people living on one dollar a day or less. When people are that poor, and inflation erodes their meager earnings, they generally do one of two things: They buy less food, or they buy cheaper, less nutritious food. The result is the same -- more hunger and less chance of a healthy future.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimated in 2007 that 850 million people on the planet suffered from hunger, with 820 million of these living in developing countries.  One of the Millennium Development Goals was to get the number of persons experiencing hunger down to 400 million by 2012, but by 2009 the FAO estimated 1.023 billion humans suffered chronic hunger, and then 925 experienced this in 2010 (see FAO media release from September 14, 2010 at

As terrible as this hunger is in developing nations, I’m alarmed that there were 30 million people outside of the developing nations who experienced hunger in 2007. These were people living in developed nations; the rich nations. It seems to me ridiculous and unacceptable that in a wealthy food-producing place like our country there should be people experiencing hunger. In the United States our main policy to prevent hunger is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, still called “food stamps” although the name has changed and most people use electronic debit cards for their benefits rather than “stamps”).  Lately there have been over 44 million Americans getting SNAP benefits in any given month ( These numbers have increased dramatically since the start of the Great Recession, and costs for the program have doubled over what they were in 2007 (from $35 billion to $72 billion in 2011). And yet, we know that as recently as 2006, a quarter of persons who qualified for SNAP benefits didn’t get them, mostly because they never applied for them, or their parents didn’t apply (see the participation rate report at In America today we have 14.5% of households experiencing some food insecurity (see Why is this?

Persons in America who experience poverty have many potential services from the public to keep them from becoming hungry.  SNAP is the biggest program, but there are also school lunch and breakfast programs for children. There are food pantries and soup kitchens or bread lines. Households may qualify to get monthly benefits through Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), or perhaps Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if someone in the household is disabled. Low-income families may get the Earned Income Tax Credit, and they may get medical care through Medicaid, and they may get help with energy bills through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). For housing, there are public housing units and vouchers for subsidized housing. And despite all this, there are still many Americans (over two million) who will skip meals or even go a whole day without eating because of their poverty in any given month.

I suppose these persons who go hungry are probably not using all the welfare benefits they could use.  They may be too embarrassed.  Or, perhaps they are ignorant of what they can get. There may be some people who have low incomes, but are not especially poor, and perhaps these people have too much income to qualify for many benefits, but then for some other reason they spend all their money on housing or medicine and have nothing left over at the end of a month to pay for food.  For example, a middle-class family that suddenly loses employment may still have too much income to qualify for food assistance, but they may have significant debt, or a someone may need very expensive medical care or medicine, and the family might choose to avoid becoming homeless or having their power turned off, or avoid dying from not taking expensive medicines, and those choices could mean that they run out of food.  Such families might be the most embarrassed and the most ignorant when it comes to getting welfare benefits.

How could social workers or food banks reach out to those who are ashamed or do not know where they can get assistance?  Outreach and publicity should be part of all the welfare programs and food bank missions. The goals for these programs and agencies should be to protect people against hunger, and that means they need to find anyone who might go hungry and convince them that everyone needs help now and then through life, and there is no shame in getting help for a period when one needs it. Food banks and food pantries should advertise more, both to collect more donations and to attract more “customers” to collect needed food. Low income neighborhoods may require the most advertising, but middle-class neighborhoods shouldn’t be overlooked. I believe if we do more to let people know about what help is available, and help them feel comfortable accepting the help after sudden layoffs or when they have exhausted their other resources, we should nearly eliminate hunger entirely, so that researchers will not be able to find the people who skip meals or go for a whole day without eating simply because they have no money for food. That should be our goal.

It is important for the United States to continue giving agricultural aid and food support to end hunger for the hundreds of millions of poorest people in the developing nations, but we also must work to eliminate hunger in our own society.