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Social Work Resources: Policy Information

Advocacy from NASW

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In the library

Government Publications & Resources

The Federal Government offers a wealth of information for social workers, including statistics, research reports, committee hearing transcripts, and more.  For a complete guide to resources from the Federal Government, go to the guide

Federal Government Resources

Kansas Legislation

Kansas legislation is more difficult to track down because hearings are not published and one mus use local media (newspapers, usually) to document reactions and repercussions of legislation.

Identify appropriate legislation

Kansas Legislature Homepage

includes bills from the current legislative session as well as Kansas Statutes (click on Statute) 

Kansas Legislative Research Department  includes briefs and summaries of legislative activity and other topics of interest of Kansans.  Look at "Policy Issues" on the left side of the page.

Government information from the State Library of Kansas includes a link to reference librarians who can help you find answers to your Kansas legislative questions.

You can also contact the Library using their hotline.  From KWCH.com this January:

 Kansas residents can access information on legislation, legislative procedure, state government, public policy issues and more by calling 1-800-432-3924.

Calls are answered by experienced reference/research librarians at the State Library of Kansas and kept confidential. Lines are open weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Callers can also leave brief messages to be delivered to legislators as well as request copies of bills, journals, and other legislative documents.

In addition to calling the hotline, residents can also text questions to 785-256-0733 (standard text message rates may apply), email, or instant message at kslib.info/ask, or visit the State Library.

The State Library is located on the third floor, north wing of the Kansas Capitol Building. The library’s hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Newpaper and journal articles

Topeka Capital-Journal .  Excellent source for up-to-date coverage of what's happening at the State House.

Kansas City Star.  While most of the newspaper is behind a paywall (they want you to pay a subscription to access it), you can "like" it on Facebook and get lots of good content this way (also useful if you're a Kansas City Royals fan.)

Newton Kansan

Wichita Eagle

Hutchinson News 

 

 

Text of legislation

  • You can learn about legislation from publications like Social Work Speaks or even from Wikipedia (which can provide lots of good background and sources--but don't use Wikipedia as a "formal" source!)  If you Google policies, be alert for URLs ending in .gov
  • The past five-ten years have seen an explosion of publicly-available information on federal legislation.  Often bill sponsors have information related to a policy on their website; similarly, federal departments (HHS, etc.) have comprehensive descriptions of programs and policies (and even the text of enabling legislation).  Be alert for .gov as part of the URL.  
    • About TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families); this government website also includes the legislation (law).    

                      

Databases

These databases include both library subscription databases and quality web-based resources. They are useful for background information and how laws are being implemented.

  • Social Work Abstracts
  • Academic Search Premier
  • Nexis Uni
  • Military & Government
  • PolicyArchive  PolicyArchive is a digital archive of global, non-partisan public policy research. It collects and disseminates summaries and full texts, videos, reports, briefs, and multimedia material of think tank, university, government, and foundation-funded policy research.
  • Congress.gov  Congress.gov is the official source for federal legislative information, replacing Thomas. On the main page, the default search is for current legislation. You can change the pull-down menu on the left to "All Legislation." Enter your keywords, topic, e.g., "mental health," "child nutrition," etc. On the results page, use the facets on the left to limit your search to specific Congresses and legislation type, e.g., "Status of Legislation."
  • Google.  Google searching can be very effective in learning about policies.  You can find the full text of many bills and laws by simply Googling.  You can also find references to committee hearings by simply searching the web.  Be alert for websites ending in .gov, for the information at US government websites is trustworthy and verifiable.

ProQuest Ebook Central (a large collection of electronic academic books) is also useful in finding background information on social welfare policy.  While Ebook Central books are in the library's book catalog (Voyager), it's best to go straight to the ProQuest interface to search for specific laws (because you can search all the text of the books in the ebrary collection.)

Congressional Hearings

Government Analysis/Research Reports

In response to requests from Congress, the Congressional Research Service issues publications that include background studies, pro/con arguments, policy/legislative analysis and legislative histories on subjects of interest to Congress. HINT: For Congressional Research Service reports you can do a Google search.  Type: your topic crs.  For example, homelessness crs

The  4 sites below are also very useful.

Searchable source of CRS reports-click the search link at the top of the page and enter "crs and your topic," Also, many relevant reports will be listed on the "Miscellaneous Topics" page.

Another searchable collection of Congressional Research Service Reports. We also have a microfilm collection of CRS reports-in the Library Catalog, enter the terms "congressional research service and your topic."

Searches of many sites that archive Congressional Research Service reports can be conducted on this site.

Congressional Research Service reports are the best way for anyone to quickly get up to speed on major political issues without having to worry about spin — from the same source Congress uses.

CRS is Congress’ think tank, and its reports are relied upon by academics, businesses, judges, policy advocates, students, librarians, journalists, and policymakers for accurate and timely analysis of important policy issues. The reports are not classified and do not contain individualized advice to any specific member of Congress. (More: What is a CRS report?)

Until today, CRS reports were generally available only to the well-connected.

Now, in partnership with a Republican and a Democratic member of Congress and library partners, we are making these reports available to everyone for free online and in one place.

Other important government resources follow below.

Googling federal legislation