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The Handbook of Policy Practice

Ira C. Colby

Publication Date - 26 February 2018

ISBN: 9780190858827

384 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

The Handbook for Policy Practice is a hands-on practice textbook that explores ways to influence social policy in an agency setting or through formal governmental processes.


All social work practice is regulated by social policies. Professionals, however, cannot arbitrarily select which policy to follow in any circumstance. Knowing what comprises a given policy is essential, but equally important is understanding how to amend a policy by applying unique skills that reflect the social work profession's shared values and beliefs. Recognizing that a series of interdependent social policies govern every aspect of social work in both nonprofit and public organizations, this practice-specific textbook focuses on influencing social policies in an agency setting or through formal governmental processes. Purposefully, the Handbook also relies on information comes from the digital world; using the web as a primary source builds on the social work profession's long-held belief to "begin where the client is." Using the links to the various data and citation sources, readers will learn to identify and discern the features of a valid web site. As a whole, The Handbook of Policy Practice is an essential resource for all BSW and MSW students.


  • Addresses the majority of the behavioral outcomes required by the CSWE EPAS.
  • Geared to all levels of social work practice, from the generalist practitioner to the advanced practitioner.
  • Content is relevant for the clinical social worker as well as the macro practitioner.
  • Provides a detailed discussion and analysis of "critical thinking," a fundamental process required for social work practice.
  • Offers a comprehensive, easy-to-understand overview of a number of different social justice theories and how they play out in various social policies.
  • Outlines the preparation and writing of policy briefs and making short, three-minute presentations.
  • Examines different policy practice strategies and techniques unique for public settings (federal state, regional, and local governments) and non-profit agencies.
  • Includes suggested activities throughout the text
  • Focuses on social media and creating "virtual rooms" for organizing and informing constituency groups - a unique tactic for social work.

About the Author(s)

Ira C. Colby, DSW, MSW, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Houston. Dr. Colby describes his social work career as one of discovery, passion, concern for others, and civic engagement. His political beginnings began as a youngster when he volunteered in a neighbor's campaign for a local city council seat. Over the years, his political work led him to: participate in and lead local, state, and national advocacy efforts and groups; provide testimony to numerous local, state, and national legislative groups; and chair a political campaign. His global-to-local perspective has been enhanced by his travel and international work to more than 25 countries.


"Ira C. Colby's The Handbook of Policy Practice is a 'hands-on' practice textbook that explores ways to influence social policy . . . It offers a common-sense approach to issue analysis with added attention to the concept of social justice and necessary critical thinking skills, policy analysis, history, economics, politics, ideologies and values, and alternate policy models. Examples used will assist readers as they endeavor to analyze historical and current social welfare policies in light of the principles of social and economic justice and human rights; and understand the role of power and privilege in social welfare policy, especially as it pertains to equality, equitability, and discrimination based on race, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, class, disability, and other individual and population characteristics." - Gary Bailey, DHL, MSW, ACSW, Professor of Practice, Simmons College School of Social Work

"Social work students seeking to understand social policy have an outstanding new book to help. Colby's The Handbook of Policy Practice draws on his decades of teaching and own successful policy practice experience to provide a top-notch addition to the field. The book encourages active application of material through targeted skill-building activities, turning everyone into experienced policy practitioners, one chapter at a time. In short, this book is an exciting resource for social policy courses and for helping social work students fulfill their ethical obligations in bringing change to society. Highly recommended!" - Richard Hoefer, PhD, MA, MSSW, Roy E. Dulak Professor for Community Practice Research, School of Social Work, University of Texas at Arlington

"Today's students and practitioners often feel overwhelmed by the complexity of the policy-making process and intimidated by the prospect of engaging in policy advocacy even when they have a strong interest in doing so. Ira Colby's The Handbook of Policy Practice will help them overcome these fears and uncertainties. It is an invaluable navigational guide that demystifies and makes more accessible the policy development and implementation process and is a welcome addition to the literature in these challenging times." - Michael Reisch, PhD, Daniel Thursz Distinguished Professor of Social Justice, University of Maryland

Table of Contents

    PART 1: Context and Framework
    Introduction to PART 1
    Chapter One - Social Policy and Social Work: An Overview
    Chapter Two - Recognizing the Underpinnings of Social Policy and Social Welfare Policy
    Chapter Three - Justice Theory and the Social Work Profession: Is This Fair and Just
    Chapter Four - Critical Thinking: The Key to Policy Practice
    Chapter Five - Contours of Analysis

    PART 2: The Making of Social Policies
    Introduction to PART 2
    Chapter Six - Federal Government-Based Policy Development
    Chapter Seven - State and Local Government-Based Policy Development
    Chapter Eight - Agency Based Policy Development

    PART 3: Impacting the Policy Making Process
    Introduction to PART 3
    Chapter Nine - Policy Practice Strategies, Tactics, and Techniques
    Chapter Ten - Social Media, Info Sheets, and Other Tools for Effective Communication

    PART 4: Not the End but the Beginning
    Introduction to PART 4
    Chapter Eleven - Glossary of Policy Practice Related Terms
    Chapter Twelve - Final Thoughts

    Appendix 1 - Congressional Caucuses, 115th Congress
    Appendix 2 - Example of Federal Register Call for Proposed Rules Change
    Appendix 3 - Social Workers in Congress, 114th Congress and Social Workers in State and Local Offices
    Appendix 4 - Examples of Op-Eds Written by Social Workers
    Appendix 5: Op-ed and Letters to the Editor Guidelines, 100 On-line and Print Publications
    Appendix 6: Example of Policy Issue Brief


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