Assessment Application Engagement and Assessment of Communities, social science homework help


Question Description

Working with entire communities and organizations might seem overwhelming, due to the large number of people involved. Where do you begin? It might be a relief to know that the GIM is just as useful to social workers practicing at the macro level as it is for those practicing at the micro and mezzo levels. In fact, you begin the process in the same way with proper engagement and the appropriate form of assessment before enacting an intervention. Successful engagement and assessment depends on strong interpersonal skills, regardless of the level of intervention. In some respects, skills such as empathy, warmth, genuineness, and general rapport-building are the same for macro work as they are for micro and mezzo work—they just may be applied in a different way. In other respects, this level of intervention depends on additional skills not often identified as social work-related, including negotiating, mediating, assessing, and budgeting. How might you utilize these skills when engaging and assessing communities? A competent and successful social work policy practitioner is able to meld these skills. This is of particular necessity when the goal is social change.

For this Assignment, review this week’s Resources. Refer to the community you selected for this week’s Discussion. Then imagine that you have been assigned to complete a needs assessment and identify potential resources for this community. You elected to interview key informants as one form of assessing this community. Consider who you would contact as a key informant for this community. Finally, think about how you might engage the informant to obtain the community details to complete your needs assessment.

Assignment: (2- to 4-page paper in APA format). Please use all three references

Your paper should include the following:

  • A description of the community you selected
  • A description of the key informants you would contact within that community
  • An explanation of why you would contact the key informants you selected
  • An explanation of the skills you might use to engage these informants to obtain the community details to complete your needs assessment and explain why you chose those skills.

Support your Assignment with specific references to the Resources. Be sure to provide full APA citations for your references.


Itzhaky, H., & York, A. S. (2002). Showing results in community organization. Social Work, 47(2), 125-131. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

Knee, R. T., & Folsom, J. (2012). Bridging the crevasse between direct practice social work and management by increasing the transferability of core skills. Administration in Social Work, 36(4), 390–408. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

Rome, S. H., & Hoechstetter, S. (2010). Social work and civic engagement: The political participation of professional social workers. Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare, 37(3), 107–129.
Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.

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Administration in Social Work ISSN: 0364-3107 (Print) 1544-4376 (Online) Journal homepage: Bridging the Crevasse Between Direct Practice Social Work and Management by Increasing the Transferability of Core Skills Ryan Tolleson Knee & Jeff Folsom To cite this article: Ryan Tolleson Knee & Jeff Folsom (2012) Bridging the Crevasse Between Direct Practice Social Work and Management by Increasing the Transferability of Core Skills, Administration in Social Work, 36:4, 390-408, DOI: 10.1080/03643107.2011.604402 To link to this article: Accepted author version posted online: 31 Jan 2012. Published online: 31 Jan 2012. Submit your article to this journal Article views: 3500 View related articles Citing articles: 6 View citing articles Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at Download by: [Walden University] Date: 01 April 2017, At: 16:49 Administration in Social Work, 36:390–408, 2012 Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC ISSN: 0364-3107 print/1544-4376 online DOI: 10.1080/03643107.2011.604402 Bridging the Crevasse Between Direct Practice Social Work and Management by Increasing the Transferability of Core Skills RYAN TOLLESON KNEE Department of Social Work, University of Montana – Missoula, Missoula, Montana, USA JEFF FOLSOM AWARE Inc., Helena, Montana, USA The following is a conceptual article that critically examines a longstanding concern in social work administration that involves the promotion of social workers primarily educated for and employed in direct service or clinical positions to entry or middle management levels. A review of the literature identifies four core skills commonly learned in graduate foundational courses and whose applicability could be expanded, making them more relevant to management. The analysis provides specific suggestions to graduate social work programs and human service organizations so social workers in direct practice can better transfer the skills to improve proficiency in the non-technical aspects of human service management. KEYWORDS clinical, core skills, direct practice, generic skills, management, social work, transferability, versatility INTRODUCTION In 1977, Patti and Austin indicated, “In the foreseeable future the vast majority of persons assuming lower and middle-management positions will continue to be drawn from the ranks of direct practice” (p. 267). The authors identified the promotional practice as a troubling trend and predicted that, Address correspondence to Ryan Tolleson Knee, Department of Social Work, University of Montana – Missoula, Jeannette Rankin Hall, Missoula, MT 59812, USA. E-mail: ryan.tolleson 390 Bridging the Crevasse 391 in spite of a growing number of graduate students selecting concentrations in administration, new managers would continue to be ones whose experience and skills were embedded in direct practice. A follow-up study of clinical social workers promoted to management positions confirmed their prediction, and findings further indicated that the managers had difficulty discontinuing their clinical practices and were frequently treating staff members as clients (Patti, Diedreck, Olson, & Crowell, 1979). Years later, Skidmore (1995) and Martin, Pine, and Healy (1999) identified that managerial positions were continuing to be filled by social workers whose primary expertise was in working with troubled clients and whose skills were less effective for the management and supervisory responsibilities required in entry and middle management positions. Patti (2000) then reconfirmed his earlier prediction by indicating that the most common career path continued to be promoting social workers in direct practice to supervisors and eventually to management and administrative positions. Unfortunately, the promotional practice has been exacerbated by the new managers receiving little or no management training and frequently relying on skills that worked well for clients but not for staff or organizations (Mor Barak, Travis, & Bess, 2004; Patti, 2000). Because of difficulties associated with the newly promoted managers and since fewer MSW graduates are selecting the administrative track (Ezell, Chernesky, & Healy, 2004), more organizations have chosen to hire graduates with degrees in public administration (MPA) or business administration (MBA) (Hoefer, 2003). Unfortunately, the decision to hire outside the profession could result in the MSW degree becoming less valued as one suitable for human service management, and the profession could begin to experience an ideological shift as people with a limited understanding of social work’s knowledge, skills, values, and ethics are placed in important decision-making positions (Wuenschel, 2006). “The image of the human service manager as incompetent lingers and competition continues” (Martin et al., 1999, p. 74). REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE One reason so many managers are promoted from direct service is because the vast majority of graduate level social work students choose clinical programs and concentrations. In their study of incoming MSW students, Rubin and Johnson (1984) indicated that 86% of incoming students were obtaining the MSW degree to enter private practice, 82% were planning to be in private practice within five years of graduation, and the majority were not committed to the profession’s focus on helping disadvantaged groups of people. Two years later, a follow-up to the study found that while students were less likely to believe they would enter private practice upon graduation than when they entered the program, respondents still remained most interested in private 392 R. Tolleson Knee and J. Folsom practice (Rubin, Johnson, & DeWeaver, 1986). In a similar study of incoming MSW students, Butler (1990) found that while more were interested in the profession’s mission to help the disadvantaged, the majority (84%), were still seeking a career in direct practice. Butler’s findings are consistent with others who found students shared a dual interest in direct practice and the profession’s traditional focus on disadvantaged populations (Bogo, Michalski, Raphael, & Roberts, 1995; Limb & Organista, 2006). Although the data on student interest in direct social work appears to be less than what Rubin and Johnson (1984) originally reported, the current literature indicates that approximately 80% of MSW students’ primary interests are in direct practice (Austin & Ezell, 2004). Strong interest in direct practice and working directly with clients is exacerbated by a declining student interest in administration (Ezell et al., 2004). Approximately 10% of MSW students choose the macro concentration (Patti 2003, Raymond, Teare, & Atherton, 1996; Swartz & Dattalo, 1990) and a modest 3%, or approximately 1,000 students, select the administrative concentration (Ezell et al., 2004). One of many possible explanations for the decreased interest is that students in administrative tracks experience anti-management comments, perceive anti-management attitudes, and hear statements that “administration is not real social work” (Ezell et al., 2004, p. 63). Students also feel pressured to become licensed and realign their initial interest in management to direct practice upon learning that more employment options are likely to be available following graduation (Pine & Healy, 1994). Other possible explanations are potentially rooted in the graduate programs themselves. In a survey of social work deans, Neugeboren (1986) found that 63% believed that direct practice was a prerequisite to becoming a manager. Foundation practice courses have also been narrowly focused on teaching skills specific to direct practice and working with individuals and families rather than small groups or teams (Ezell et al., 2004; Martin et al., 1999). Many students, especially those in direct practice (approximately 80%) who are less likely to complete an administrative course, have few opportunities to learn basic management skills or how to better apply the generic people skills frequently learned in direct practice courses (e.g., communication, interpersonal skills) to management settings and situations. The combination of the anti-management sentiments and the focus on individuals and families in foundation practice courses has the potential to keep direct practice students minimally informed about the role of management and to foster a bias against those in management positions (Patti, 2003). Furthermore, “the negative climates experienced in professional education of both management and non-management students may exacerbate the gulf between managers and clinicians as MSW graduates move into agencies, further increasing the strain between the competing domains within organizations” (Ezell et al., 2004, p. 74). Bridging the Crevasse 393 If students take the anti-management sentiments from the classroom to the workplace following graduation, the profession is likely to undermine many of its own aspirations and ethical principles, shooting itself in the foot as it limps forward. For example, many organizations employing clinical social workers are required by state regulatory and accrediting agencies to hire supervisors who are licensed and have direct practice experience. Teaching management skills to former direct practice social workers is difficult enough, and negative attitudes about management can make the process of transferring the new skills or positively socializing them into management roles even more challenging (Austin, Weisner, Schrandt, Glezos-Bell, & Murtaza, 2006). Social workers in direct practice who have proven their value to the organization and whose credentials help the organization to meet licensing and regulatory structures are often the ones first considered for management positions. Patti (2009) conservatively estimates that there are 360,000 management-related jobs in the private and public sectors (p.7), 25% of NASW members are in management-related positions (p. 8), and 27% of LCSW’s spend 20 hours or more each week completing managerial tasks (p. 8). Unfortunately, between 25% and 50% of MSW practitioners are completing management-related tasks with little or no training (Patti, 2009). In a survey of managers who belong to the National Network of Social Work Managers, Mor Barak et al. (2004) found that 80% of the respondents attended a clinical or combined clinical/generalist program and that one-third were enrolled in a clinical program (p. 29). The study further indicated that the majority of managers felt unprepared for their managerial responsibilities. Higher Education and Organizational Leadership Graduate schools of social work and public and private nonprofit leadership both share a responsibility to prepare clinical social workers for management and leadership positions. For schools of social work, the problem is magnified by students’ negative attitudes toward macro and administrative courses and increased pressure to provide micro content courses directed toward students’ more immediate educational and employment interests. Furthermore, the vast majority of MSW students are women and most administrators are men (Patti, 2003), thereby limiting the number of administrative role models for female students Scholars in the field of career development also indicate that women must still balance career aspirations with what they perceive as possible (Farmer, 1997). Super (1990) suggests that self-concept is a strong determinant in career selection and that, with more professional experience, the self-concept expands and creates new opportunities for career choices. Super’s explanation is consistent with Bandura’s (1977) contributions to social learning theory whereby through contextualized observations 394 R. Tolleson Knee and J. Folsom of others new behaviors can be assimilated and reproduced in the future. Since most social work students are women and administrators are men, and most are launching their first career, few have had opportunities to have the behaviors of leadership modeled for them by same sex mentors, thereby limiting career choice. Moreover, many students enter the social work profession to help people overcome personal problems and have a limited ability to envision a professional role beyond helping clients in a way similar to how they were helped (Sheafor, Horejsi, & Horejsi, 2000). In spite of students’ immediate desires to obtain training and a career in direct practice, nearly half will be promoted to management positions (Patti, 2009). As a result, well-developed management training programs and continuing education are critically important (Thompson, Menefee, & Marley 1999). Management training, however, can be expensive and time consuming, and administrative leaders must consider them in light of shrinking budgets and potentially limited positive impacts. Professional development and staff training in the private and public sectors is estimated at an annual cost of $100 billion and consumes 15 billion work hours of time each year. Unfortunately, the current return on the organization’s investment in the transfer of skills, knowledge, and attitudes from the classroom to current job performance is estimated at between 10%–15% one year later (Austin et al., 2006; Holton & Baldwin, 2003; Yamnill, & McLean, 2001). The literature clearly indicates that many managers who were previously in direct service positions frequently suffer from a case of “tunnel vision” that limits their capacity to effectively manage employees (Patti & Austin, 1977). As Patti (2003) states, “poorly socialized and inadequately informed graduates send an unfortunate message to the field” (p. 7). And, by applying direct practice skills to managerial problems, the staff and organizations they manage could be adversely affected. ANALYSIS-DIRECT PRACTICE AND MANAGEMENT SKILLS Many of the fundamental skills being taught in the foundation year are the ones most needed to effectively provide direct services to clients and to effectively manage people. The generalist focus of the foundation year has required that students acquire skills generic in nature and applicable to multiple settings and situations, including management. In their respective studies, Menefee and Thompson (1994), Martin et al. (1999), and Hoefer (2003) reached similar conclusions by identifying the skills that managers of human service organizations most frequently used were non-technical and include: communication, supervision, facilitation, teaming, and interpersonal skills. While technical skills were important, the authors also identified that they were less often employed when managing human service organizations. The only exception was Martin et al.’s (1999) study of students graduating Bridging the Crevasse 395 with an administration concentration, who indicated that communication and budgeting were the most important skills followed by leadership, team building, and problem solving (p. 85). The literature indicates that the fields of direct practice social work and human service and business management share a set of common core skills. Borrowing from each practice area, the following section identifies four generic skills frequently cited as requirements to effectively provide direct practice social work and to manage in mid-level administrative positions of human service organizations that employ clinical social workers. Each skill is defined with attention given to its significance and applicability in direct practice and management, identifying the similarities and differences of each skill, and how the different contexts have honed a specialized subset of practice behaviors making it potentially difficult to transfer the skills from a clinical to a managerial role. Communication Superb communication skills are a prerequisite to developing effective therapeutic relationships with clients, facilitating group and family meetings, conducting interviews, negotiating and mediating conflicts, and working effectively with other professionals (e.g., judges, physicians) (Hepworth, Rooney, Dewberry Rooney, Strom-Gottfried, & Larsen, 2010; Sheafor et al., 2000; Shulman, 1992; Trevithick, 2000). In fact, “verbal communication is at the heart of social work practice” (Sheafor et al., 2000, p. 136), and if social workers do not have the ability to communicate extremely well, their effectiveness is limited (Trevthick, 2000). Social workers in direct practice must possess sound verbal and non-verbal forms of expressing ideas, thoughts, and meaning through skilled questioning, paraphrasing, voice tone, facial gestures, eye contact and “tuned in” body movements to effectively establish rapport and convey a sense of genuineness, trust, empathy, and unconditional positive regard (Boyle, Hull, Mather, Smith, & Farley, 2006; Hepworth et al., 2010; Shulman, 1992). Similarly, social workers in direct practice must have the ability to accurately interpret verbal and non-verbal forms of communication and the capacity to actually experience the client’s emotional state in an accepting and non-judgmental manner (Hepworth et al., 2010; Shulman, 1992). In studies measuring what managers do, communication has been consistently identified as one of the most important skills for managers to possess (Hoefer, 2003; Martin et al., 1999; Menefee & Thompson, 1994; Whetten & Cameron, 2011) since “80% of a manager’s time is spent in verbal communication” (Whetten & Cameron, 2011, p. 239). Managers should be able to: understand multiple forms and styles of communication; accurately interpret what is being communicated verbally and non-verbally; and respond to cues appropriately. Managers who communicate effectively must 396 R. Tolleson Knee and J. Folsom also be articulate and succinct; keep staff accurately informed (Menefee & Thompson, 1994); minimize ambiguity when articulating goals and objectives (Whetten & Cameron, 2011); make presentations (Whetten & Cameron, 2011); respond empathically (Goleman, 1994); effectively converse with a diverse constituency (Whetten & Cameron, 2011); and exchange information internally and externally (Menefee & Thompson, 1994). Similar to social workers in direct practice, effective managers should understand that people perceive and interpret situations in a variety of ways and that the differences can frequently lead to miscommunication. Both roles require an ability to understand the emotional implications of difficult conversations and the capacity to monitor and manage one’s emotional state to minimize defensive reactions (Sheafor et al., 2000; Whetten & Cameron, 2011). In both positions, the listener must work to understand what is being communicated, determine how to best present complicated information, and monitor the affective and cognitive states of both the speaker and receiver to accurately judge the person’s understanding of what was communicated. Moreover, both roles require an ability to competently and quickly establish rapport; mediate and negotiate conflicts (Whetten & Cameron, 2011); provide sound supervision (Menefee & Thompson, 1994); establish positive working relationships (Goleman, 1994); convey a sense of competence and confidence; accurately interpret and respond to the emotions of others (Goleman, 1994); and convey an interest in the personal and professional development of supervisees (Austin et al., 2006) While both professional roles require exceptional communication skills, social workers in direct practice must fine tune a subset of communication skills that incorporate careful attention to the nuanced verbal and nonverbal forms of communicating emotions and how thinking processes, mood regulation, and behavior ...

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