Child Welfare – April 15

While not very surprising, much of the information in Ms. Melissa D. Carter’s presentation on Child Welfare of April 10, 2014, is shocking to hear and to see. All of our nation’s most vulnerable populations are treated similarly. Children, military veterans, and the elderly are prescribed psychotropic medications in order to be able to exhibit socially acceptable behavior. People who work in direct care with these populations are among the poorest paid professionals. Outcomes for these populations are the least likely to be measured, studied, or proactively changed. While Ms. Carter’s presentation achieved a level of educating the audience, most surprising is the sense of failure to generate feelings of connectivity to the issue. Nobody in the audience seemed to leave with the sense that each and every one of us can do something to improve the child welfare situation in some way. Conversely, the general feeling seemed to be one of being overwhelmed once the quantity of child welfare cases that a case manager is expected to handle became known. This seems to highlight the difficulty of getting people who become educated about an issue to become active participants.

Recognition that children need services past the age of eighteen is encouraging. The existence of Department of Family and Children’s Services (DFCS) Independent Living Program (ILP) was new information on a personal level. Very impressive is the information Ms. Carter presented that most of the young Georgian’s eligible to receive these services and support do receive them, an impressive 2385 youth of 2588.

The process of social policy creation seems to affect the outcome for vulnerable children and families. Most of the major issues Ms. Carter spoke of were involved: federal and state laws and funding, high profile cases, class action litigation, and the changing of top leadership. In the legislative session just previous, the only requirement was to pass a budget for the state. This left an extremely narrow to nonexistent window of opportunity for child welfare legislation to pass. Compounding this situation was the factor of timing. The calendar for this legislative period was short and occasionally thwarted by the weather. A change in date for the state primary election, moving up to be on May 20, 2014, is the main instigator for the calendar change. Consequently, legislators focused on two specific issues: passing required legislation and gearing up election campaigns. In these trying circumstances, it is encouraging that a bill regarding child welfare, specifically Senate Bill 350, received as much attention as it did. The status history of SB 350 reflects fourteen actions affecting the bill that included multiple readings, committee referrals resulting in two substitutes, amendments, and reconsiderations. Generally, the language in SB 350 varied greatly from Senate Hopper to final voting. The shift in focus from more fully privatizing Georgia’s child welfare system to conducting a pilot study in order to make a more informed decision is encouraging and appears reflective of a working democratic system. This is a good immediate outcome for Georgia’s vulnerable children and families.

Being informed consumers of the current child welfare systems in place is important in improving creation of child welfare social policy. The lack of empirical studies highlights a knowledge gap in need of further review before too much more action resulting in unknown consequences, is taken.

Blog 3 – ACA – March 20

Is the devil we know as US healthcare worse than the devil we do not know as US healthcare under the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)? Also, is the ACA intimately tied to whether or not to extend unemployment insurance benefits?

In her book Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making, Deborah Stone reviews different models of persuasion. Specifically, Stone observes that persuasion in the polis is divided into business and government persuasion. Stone’s description of business persuasion appears to be overtly powerful in that it: is dominated by capitalism, sponsors and manipulates public perception of scientific research, uses education materials and programs to develop support for policy positions, and owns and uses mass media to influence public opinion. Her description of government persuasion appears to be covertly powerful in that: citizens’ behaviors are influenced by lower-level bureaucrats using benefits and punishments, some policy purposefully attempts to shape citizens’ characters, newsworthy information can be slanted, information withheld, or publication forbidden. In light of the two types of persuasion Stone discusses, what we know with regard to the ACA and extending unemployment insurance benefits is identified through the lens of who is asking what question of whom, and when.

There are few areas regarding the US healthcare system and health insurance that which both business and government seem to agree. The US is identified as being the only developed nation to not have a universal health care system; however, the US government does spend more than double that of other developed countries on this issue. The most obvious differences between these other developed countries and the US regarding healthcare provision are demonstrated in the video, Sick Around the World. Those differences are discussed as being integral parts of universal healthcare: medical providers must charge standard prices to keep cost down; by law, everyone must buy health insurance, through an employer or community plan, for which a patient cannot be turned down for a pre-existing illness; insurance for the poor is subsidized; and perhaps the largest primary difference – in a universal health care system, insurance companies are restricted from making a profit on basic medical care.

Why does the debate on the US healthcare system matter now? In her Class Blog, Dr. Margaret Palmiter makes the observation that “unemployment and health care and poverty are totally and completely entwined.” This idea is demonstrated in the video, Sick Around America. The link between these concepts is shown to be the declining economy leading to high unemployment, whereby more people end up in poverty, with one result being lost health insurance. In the US, health insurance is a private system that has failed to provide coverage for 46 million people, leaves millions more underinsured due to rising insurance costs, exposes many to being medical bankruptcy risks, and in some cases, can lead to death. Extending health care coverage to those without is the idea behind many of the reforms established by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The primary goals of the ACA are to increase quality and affordability of health insurance. Lowering the rate of those uninsured is to be achieved by enlarging public and private insurance coverage and reducing the costs of healthcare for individuals and the government.

Is the ACA changing the health insurance situations for Americans? The answer is both yes and no because, as Deborah Stone observes, for everything that is included, something else is excluded. Those remaining uninsured are illegal immigrants ineligible for insurance subsidies and Medicaid. Also remaining uninsured are citizens not enrolled in Medicaid despite being eligible, citizens not otherwise covered and opting to pay the annual penalty, and citizens whose insurance coverage would cost more than 8% of household income and are exempt from paying the annual penalty. Additionally, remaining uninsured are poor minorities and single-mother citizens who live in one of 26 states, the ones with the most uninsured, opting out of the Medicaid expansion and who qualify for neither existing Medicaid coverage or subsidized coverage through the states’ insurance exchanges. Depending on the state of residence, this description includes citizens similar to those depicted in Jason DeParle’s book American Dream. The insured include children and dependents, as portrayed in Sick Around America, who can now remain on their parents’ plans until their 26th birthday. Others described in the video can now have access to health insurance as well, such as the man with the pre-existing condition, the woman needing a second surgery, and the Massachusetts family who could not afford the previously too-high premium rates. As observed in The Mental Anguish of the Long-term Unemployed article, many long-term unemployed can qualify for Medicaid or heavily subsidized health insurance that would include coverage for the comorbid conditions of declining mental health and addiction.

How are the ACA and extending unemployment insurance benefits tied together? The primary answer is well described in a comment to the article Should We Extend Unemployment Insurance – And Cut the Minimum Wage. As one reader comments: “They’re playing games with 2 million american lives over a childish tantrum rooted in obamacare [ACA]. So we’re all losing shelter, our vehicles (forget getting a job more than walking distance from your house now), and going on welfare and foodstamps because Republican children are throwing a very old tantrum.” This situation is also observable in Tampa, Florida where a Republican narrowly won a special congressional election that which prompted the Republicans to espouse that this showed that Obamacare would cost the Democrats the mid-term elections. However, these mid-term elections highlight the risks of congressmen voting against a government program extension of unemployment insurance benefits in states where the jobless rate is particularly high, such as Ohio and Illinois. Having lost on the issue of the ACA, the Republicans are using the possibility of not extending unemployment insurance benefits as a revenge tactic. This observation is further encapsulated in the article Jobless Benefits – The GOP’s Search for an Exit.

For many Americans, such as young adults and the long-term unemployed, healthcare stories are changing as access to health insurance becomes available. Is the existence of the ACA lowering the rate of the uninsured? The latest information regarding the ACA comes from a March 2014, Gallup-Healthways Well-Being survey. Their finding suggests that the uninsured rate has dropped by 2.8 % primarily among households making less than $36,000 per year.

Blog 2 – March 3

The intersection of race, gender and class: How did reading DeParle change your perception of the ability of social policy to combat poverty? In thinking about Stone’s definition of the goal of liberty and the problem of equality, describe how DeParle’s book discusses the liberty-welfare trade off. Do you think DeParle believe’s there is a trade off?

Changing My Perception

Reading DeParle did not change my perception that social policy can only somewhat assist in combating poverty. DeParle summarizes the differing social policies and approaches to poverty of multiple political administrations. Although a variety of social policies and strategies are tried in attempts to improve poverty, arguably the situation of poverty in this country is not substantially diminished. The effort to combat poverty is equally as important as the ways and means. If the condition of poverty is not essentially changing, then the way effort is used, and the means by which it is applied, makes the effort less valuable. While social policy is a valuable tool in assisting to combat poverty, there are a few important factors largely unaddressed by DeParle and our society: the prevalent drug culture in areas of poverty, men in poverty, and welfare recipients missing as voices in the political process.

DeParle’s Description of the Liberty-Welfare Tradeoff

By having a welfare system based upon not providing clear pathways to leave, such as through education and improved job skills, people naturally revert to using the welfare resource system as a means for being sustained. Welfare recipients are survivors in a harsh environment where personal strength and perseverance, community, and survival education are the primary quality of life factors. DeParle observes that Jewell worked for the post office and continued to receive her full welfare and food stamps. In her words “money was just coming in from everywhere” (DeParle, p. 158) and a desire for life to be different is not expressed. That scholastic education is not portrayed to those who are impoverished as an important tool for advancement out of poverty explains why Jewell failed a reading test for possible work placement. The value of having reading skills is considered to be low. At this point, Jewell is not shown to express a desire for a different life style that might not include welfare and is not seeking tools to change her situation. Jewell demonstrates a willingness to work at various low-paying jobs such as office cleaning and telemarketing. Additionally, she willingly provides child caregiving services for her housemates that do work. By mid-point in his book, the trade off DeParle seems to describe is that those who are impoverished receive the most basic of food, shelter, medical, and education needs in order to maintain them as a domestic source of low cost labor.

Does Deparle Believe There is a Tradeoff

Yes in the sense that Stone observes that to be dependent on others for welfare means being subject to their control. In the survival impressions from DeParle’s case studies, people will do what they need to do to survive. Under current policy, survival means taking advantage of the welfare system. Survival is not dependent on education or job advancement; conversely, these are risks. In this respect the welfare system is set up to not advance people out. Perpetuating reliance on the welfare system could be considered an infringement on liberty, having a real choice free of the possibility of hurting their survival chances.


 No in the sense that Stone observes that complete self-sufficiency is an illusory ideal and dependence on others is inevitable-but help from others enhances liberty. As chronicled by DeParle, survival is dependent upon available resources. The resources identified by welfare recipients are as support provided by people and money from welfare checks, jobs, and family and friends. Money from welfare and jobs are balanced by the state but assistance from family and friends can favor the recipient and enhance liberty. Because those on welfare support each other, all who participate are positively affected, for example: by exchanging TANF and SNAP benefits, transportation, and childcare services.


DeParle, J. (2004). American Dream. New York, New York: Viking Penguin.

Stone, D. (2012). Policy paradox. New York, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

February 4th Post

Utilizing one example from political current events, talk about a social policy or proposed social policy that was effected by the political process.

On Sunday, 2 February 2014, the popular football contest NFL Super Bowl XLVIII was played in New Jersey. Recent media publicity for the football game has also brought attention to a connected issue of the rise in sex trafficking crimes due to the game. Sex trafficking is also endemic in Georgia. Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) officials estimate that hundreds of children, and others, are being held as sex slaves in Atlanta, which has “one of the worst reputations for the crime in the country” (GBI, 2011). The GBI (2011) notes that there are twelve, now thirteen, applicable Georgia state laws regarding sex trafficking.

Enacted in 2013, the Crimes Against the Person HB 141 amends Title 16 and is the most recent legislation of the Georgia General Assembly efforts to address local sex trafficking issues. The Act obliges certain types of businesses to make publically available a sign with information, including a toll-free telephone number for assistance, to help victims of human trafficking (Kelbaugh & Varner, 2013). Offense fines are also included in the Act. The Human Trafficking Notice can be found on the GBI website at .

In reviewing the political process for Crimes Against the Person HB 141, Kelbaugh and Varner (2013) show that the process did somewhat change the outcome. The House had two readings in late January of 2013 before its committee assignment. The House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee made several practical changes introduced in a Committee substitute report. The Committee substitute report: assigned who was to write the notice, defined the phrase “adult entertainment establishment” and included those businesses in the requirement, set a business posting date, and added the exclusion of businesses offering massages by licensed massage therapists. Other changes specify law enforcement involvement and fines for violations. On 27 February 2013, the House adopted the Committee substitute with a one hundred seventy-one to one vote.

The political process for Crimes Against the Person HB 141 continued in the Senate. Kelbaugh and Varner (2013) observed that the Judiciary Non-Civil Committee made very few, minor, changes to HB 141. HB 141 was read three times before the Senate passed the Committee substitute on 21 March 2013 by a vote of forty-seven to one.

Kelbaugh and Varner (2013) make note of the final stages in the political process for the Senate Committee substitute of Crimes Against the Person HB 141. The Senate Committee substitute was sent to the House for review and voting. This was passed in the House by a vote of one hundred sixty-eight to two on 25 March 2013. Governor Nathan Deal then reviewed and signed the Act on 6 May 2013.


Crimes Against the Person HB 141, O.C.G.A. § 16-5-47 (new) (2013).

Georgia Bureau of Investigation (2013). Human Trafficking Notice. Retrieved from

Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Human Trafficking Unit (2011). Human trafficking: Modern day slavery [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from

Georgia General Assembly, Legislation (2014). 2013-2014 Regular Session –HB 141: Kidnapping; certain businesses and establishments post a model notice to enable persons who are the subject of human trafficking to obtain help and services; require. Retrieved from

Kelbaugh, W. & Varner, A. (2013). Crimes against the person HB 141. Georgia State University Law Review, 30(1), article 7. Retrieved from: