Policymaking Opportunities for Direct Practice Social Workers in Mental Health and Addiction Services

  • Thomas J. Powell University of Michigan School of Social Work
  • Eve Garrow University of Michigan School of Social Work
  • Michael R. Woodford University of Michigan School of Social Work
  • Brian Perron University of Michigan School of Social Work
Keywords: Policymaking, social policy, direct practice, mental health services, addiction services, social work education

Abstract

Direct practice social workers have potentially significant policymaking opportunities as mediators of top-down policy and as creators of policy where none exists. The power they possess stems from their ‘on the ground’ expertise and the discretion available to them in making practice decisions. By understanding their power as “street-level bureaucrats” they can significantly improve policy. Drawing on policy issues in mental health and addictions services, this article illustrates how social workers can use their power in an ethically sensitive manner to enhance policy outcomes for clients.

Author Biographies

Thomas J. Powell, University of Michigan School of Social Work
Professor
Eve Garrow, University of Michigan School of Social Work
Assistant Professor
Michael R. Woodford, University of Michigan School of Social Work
Assistant Professor
Brian Perron, University of Michigan School of Social Work
Associate Professor
Published
2013-01-25
Section
Articles