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Library Instruction For: SWO 411: Overview

Social Policy

Linda Hacker

Services:        1-on-1 training and/or research assistance

                        Small group training and/or research assistance

Library’s Web Page:

Recommended Databases:

History and Policy:  


  • Congressional Budget Office  The CBO provides objective, nonpartisan economic analyses of pending legislation. Under Publications, you can browse by subject.
  • Government Accountability Office  The GAO supports the work of Congress by performing audits and evaluations of government programs and activities. See the Reports and Testimonies tab.




Helpful Keywords:

background or history; trends; population; participating factors; affecting; legislation; budget; inception; impact; United States;


Search Techniques:

  • To search a phrase use quotation marks. For example: “adoptive parents”
  • To search a word, with variable endings, use the truncation mark *.  For example: oppress*…this will search: oppress, oppressed, oppresses, oppression.
  • To find additional search terms, click on the title link, you’ll see additional subject terms provided by the database and/or the article’s author.
  • Click to search for full text of item. - This symbol lets you know that the article is not full-text in the database you are searching in…

However, it does offer you a few options:

  • The article may be full-text in another database the library has.
  • The library may own the hard copy journal – if so, just order it through the InterLibrary Loan form online
  • The library doesn’t have the article full-text through the databases or in hard copy – the InterLibrary Loan office can get you a copy of the article for free and they will send it to your email address.
  • ​References at the end of an article may also be good articles to look at in your search.


Evaluating Social Policy:

Description of the problem/human need that necessitated the policy

Defines the problem based on facts about the population(s) affected nationally and at a state-level (if applicable), causes of the problem, and changes over time.


Description of the policy

Describes how the current selected policy operates within the selected state or federal arena. Articulates, the policy goals, who is covered by the policy, how administered, funding/resources for the policy, and how effectiveness is determined.


Historical background of the policy

Describes the legislative history of the policy and how it has changed over time.


Policy Analysis: Goals

Describes whether the goals of the policy contribute to greater social equality; contributes to a better quality of life for the target population/society, and is consistent with social work values. Does the policy make a difference?


Policy Analysis: Political Aspects

Describe the support/opposition to the policy, public opinion, and if social values are threatened.  Discuss how to advocate for the policy to those who oppose it.


Policy Analysis: Implementation Factors

Describe the likelihood of the policy achieving its goals, side effects/social problems, alternative policies and barriers.

Subject Guide

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Linda Hacker
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Drake Memorial Library
350 New Campus Dr.
Brockport, NY 14420