The testing of welfare recipients has become a hot topic within the past few years. Many individuals believe that this policy will act to ensure taxpayer money does not fund drug habits of individuals receiving government assistance, however the relevance and necessity of this policy have yet to be agreed upon by all. The goal of this paper is to determine whether this policy is consistent with the values, ethics and responsibilities found within the National Association of Social Worker 's Code of Ethics. The values and principles of dignity and worth of the person, social justice, privacy and confidentiality, and social and political action will be examined to determine how ethical this policy is in relation to the values of professionals in the field of social work.
Description of Policy
Several state social welfare programs have implemented or considered drug testing their recipients. David Duke, a State Representative from Louisiana, first proposed drug testing welfare recipients in 1989. Although his proposal did not succeed, it sparked many more calls to begin drug testing people in need of welfare benefits (Amundson, Zajicek & Hunt, 2014, p.10).
President Bill Clinton approved the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) in 1996, which replaced several other assistance programs with the Temporary Aid for Needy Families program (TANF) (Karger & Stoesz, 2014, p.228). Karger and Stoesz (2014) state that this new program refuted the idea that poor people were entitled to assistance from the state and placed several conditions and regulations on who is eligible for government assistance (p. 228). One of these conditions was th...
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...al principles and responsibilities of social workers, the policy of drug testing welfare recipients does not reflect the goals and values of social work. This policy violates the dignity and worth of people in need by subjecting them to a drug test before determining eligibility for benefits. This policy also goes against the ethical principle of social justice and continues the cycle of oppression and poverty. Drug testing welfare recipients conflicts with the social work responsibility to maintain privacy and confidentiality of clients unless this information is necessary. Finally, the policy does not reflect the responsibility of social and political action. It not only discriminates against low income populations in need, it also fails to see substance abuse as a mental health condition and does nothing to treat these individuals in order to help them succeed.
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