Today, I have a request for the crowd that is more explicitly focused on my teaching, instead of my consulting practice.
So, think of your contributions as feeding the next generation of social work policy professionals.
I appreciate you in advance, of course.
One of the things I stress with my policy students is the importance of the entirety of the policy change process. Creating social change, of course, isn’t just about legislative advocacy; we spend quite a bit of time talking about change within the judicial arena, with administrative agencies, and in larger community/societal attitudes and policy conversations, too.
But, even when we are talking specifically about changing legislation as a vehicle for policy improvement, that doesn’t mean just the period between bill introduction and celebratory signing ceremony. Instead, it has to start much earlier, when we’re formulating policy ideas and building a base and connecting with potential allies and negotiating alternatives.
And it has to far outlast the drying of the ink on the executive’s signature, if we want our policy changes to actually root, and to actually have an impact.
And I think my students really get that, conceptually. They nod their heads a lot, and they ask smart questions in response to the articles that we read about the process of policy implementation, and advocacy around the same.
But, when it comes time to give them examples of organizations’ and groups’ advocacy campaigns around implementation, I struggle. There are great case stories about organizations working with elected officials to change laws. My students eat these up, because they’re real, and they make the process real for them, then, before they get out into the field.
But so much of the policy implementation process happens behind closed doors, literally and figuratively. Organizations are not often in the news for implementation victories, even though influencing the staffing levels and qualifications, and the due process procedures to which clients have access, and the eligibility rules that drive access to benefits, and the definitions about what will be provided and in what ways…all of that can matter just as much as getting the law changed in the first place.
Recently, the protracted battles around implementation of the Affordable Care Act, including the promulgation of thousands of pages of regulations enacting that long and complex legislation, have provided good context to make these implementation issues real for my students. Certainly the ACA has been a very good example of the truth that:
But I need more.
I need examples of advocacy campaigns around policy implementation, particularly (being choosy, here!) where the advocates’ primary purpose was not legislative change, in the first place, but changes to administrative or regulatory policy, which implements legislation.
I would love stories about why advocates chose this as the target, how they constructed a campaign, what levers of power they used, how they mobilized necessary constituents, how they secured the information they needed, how they evaluated their successes.
I welcome case studies of implementation efforts that are successful in achieving the stated goal, and those that fell short in some ways, because we can certainly learn from both. It would be wonderful if folks have examples where I can contact the key players involved, but I’ll also take anonymous clippings, as instructive illustrations.
Crowd, can you hook me up with some good implementation stories?