Hello! I’m Nicole Clark, a New York City-based licensed social worker and independent evaluator, specializing in working with nonprofits and agencies to design, implement, and evaluate programs and services primarily tailored to women and girls of color.
One of the common misconceptions of social workers is that we only work with individuals and families, providing therapeutic counseling or linking clients to programs and services via case management. Unfortunately, this misconception can be prevalent among evaluators who are not very familiar with the social work profession. Today’s post offers lessons learned and a hot tip highlighting three approaches to social work:
Lesson Learned: Macro social workers help to improve or change laws to create systemic change. The macro approach has the ability to bring to light issues that are faced at the mezzo or micro level. A macro social worker can include a policy maker who lobbies to introduce or change a law that directly impacts a community or program. An example of a macro social worker is Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), who introduced a bill called the Real Education for Healthy Youth Act (H.R. 1706). If passed, would provide funding for comprehensive sex education in the U.S.
Lesson Learned: Mezzo social workers work within groups or communities, such as schools, neighborhoods, and organizations. Compared to the macro level, mezzo social work links the needs and challenges of a group or community to cultural or institutional change. An example of a mezzo social worker is Charlene Carruthers, national director of the Black Youth Project, where she helps youth participate in community organizing for social, political, and economic freedom.
Lesson Learned: Micro social workers engage with individuals and families to problem solve and/or connect to beneficial resources. You can find micro social workers in private practice, hospitals, housing, and many other social services. When we think of social work, we tend to think of this level. This is because all social workers begin at the micro level, learning the skills of observation, critical thinking, self-awareness, client engagement, and verbal and written communication.
Hot Tip: As you move forward in your evaluation work with social workers, consider the following: What quantitative and/or qualitative measures can assist a social worker in private practice in collecting responses to client level of engagement? How can one develop an evaluation plan that can assist a mezzo social worker in assessing participant views on the specifics of a program? How can program evaluation assist in developing policies, standards and practices to that can address contemporary needs of a community?
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating SW TIG Week with our colleagues in the Social Work Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our IC TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.