Public Sector Agencies are Best Equiped to Fight Social Injustice

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Public Sector Agencies are Best Equiped to Fight Social Injustice

With a new President, in came the rush of a new agenda. Gone were the days of the Clinton era, a time of continued investment in big government programs and a commitment that the federal government would assist in healing societal wounds. With President Bush in office, the social work community knew it was in for big changes.

Armed with an agenda consistent with his conservative beliefs, President Bush came forth with policies that attempted to downsize the federal role in social issues and social work, to return power to the states in the form of block grants, and to increase reliance on the market as a solution to problems. Like his father before him, Bush wanted a return to a time when helping a neighbor was something one did out of the goodness of the heart. To make the tax cuts he promised happen, Bush had to shave dollars from the welfare programs administered by social workers to the nation’s most downtrodden citizens.

With support for faith-based social service agencies, a taste for private school vouchers, and an incessant urge to privatize what is known among policy analysts as the “third rail of politics” (Social Security), President Bush was able to stir up a long-standing debate within the social work community (Zastrow, 1999). Social workers began to ask, once again, what was the most effective, most emblematic type of delivery to the needy: public-sector services or private-sector services?

The debate over public and private social services is a constant in the social work profession. To truly understand the debate, the definitions of such agencies must be clear. Barker defines private social agencies as “nonprofit agencies that provide ...

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