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43 Essential Policies for Human Services Professionals
Gerald V. O'Brien
ISBN: 978-0-87101-574-7. 2021. Item #5747. 258 pages.
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Touching every aspect of life and community, social policy is broad, deep, and constantly changing. For instructors, building a cohesive and engaging policy curriculum can be daunting. For students, navigating policy history, understanding policy implications, and conducting complex analysis can be overwhelming. Gerald O’Brien provides a resource to overcome these challenges, because policy familiarity contributes to social workers’ fundamental understanding of the individuals, communities, institutions, and governments they serve.

43 Essential Policies for Human Services Professionals boils down key policies to their most essential elements: historical overview and nature of the social problem, policy overview, and effectiveness. Analysis elements address issues related to the policy, such as trigger events, problem framing, social engineering, covert rationales, unintended consequences, target efficiency, and governmental responsibility.

A 45-page Instructor Appendix is available as a separate PDF. This teaching resource includes two components for each chapter: (1) questions for further discussion and (2) research and questions related to analysis elements. The Instructor Appendix can be used for assigning student research, paper topics, and class discussions, and includes cross-policy and cross-concept analysis, occasionally referencing concepts and policies not covered in this text. To request a copy, send an e-mail to

This thought-provoking and reader-friendly text prepares students for class engagement, lobbying activities, meeting with legislators, and serving their local communities. It fulfills the basic need of all social workers to understand the historical roots of oppression, to advocate for their clients’ access to services, and to advance social and economic justice.
Note to Instructors

Chapter 1: Elizabethan Poor Laws
Chapter 2: Dorothea Dix and the Pierce Veto
Chapter 3: State Eugenic Sterilization Legislation
Chapter 4: Workers’ Compensation
Chapter 5: Immigration Restriction Legislation
Chapter 6: Unemployment Insurance
Chapter 7: The Social Security Act
Chapter 8: Works Progress Administration
Chapter 9: Fair Labor Standards Act
Chapter 10: Japanese Internment
Chapter 11: Servicemen’s Readjustment Act (G.I. Bill)
Chapter 12: Head Start
Chapter 13: Community Mental Health Centers Act
Chapter 14: Civil Rights Act
Chapter 15: Food Stamp Program/Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program
Chapter 16: Medicare
Chapter 17: Medicaid
Chapter 18: Older Americans Act
Chapter 19: National Environmental Policy Act
Chapter 20: Supplemental Security Income
Chapter 21: Women, Infants, and Children Program
Chapter 22: Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act
Chapter 23: Housing and Community Development Act
Chapter 24: Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act
Chapter 25: Education for All Handicapped Children Act
Chapter 26: Earned Income Tax Credit Act
Chapter 27: Indian Child Welfare Act
Chapter 28: Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act
Chapter 29: McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act
Chapter 30: Anti-Drug Abuse Act
Chapter 31: Americans with Disabilities Act
Chapter 32: Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act
Chapter 33: Family and Medical Leave Act
Chapter 34: Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act
Chapter 35: Violence Against Women Act
Chapter 36: Temporary Assistance for Needy Families
Chapter 37: Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act
Chapter 38: Defense of Marriage Act
Chapter 39: USA Patriot Act
Chapter 40: No Child Left Behind Act
Chapter 41: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Chapter 42: Coronavirus Epidemic and Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act
Chapter 43: Black Lives Matter Movement

About the Author
Gerald (Jerry) V. O’Brien, PhD, is a professor in the Social Work Department at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where he has taught for the past two decades. He received his BSW from the University of Missouri–St. Louis, his MSW from the University of Missouri–Columbia, and his PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. O’Brien teaches classes in community organizing, policy analysis, and research and disability studies at both the undergraduate and the graduate levels. His research focuses on disability history and policy with particular emphasis on eugenics as well as metaphor analysis in relation to social injustice and stigmatization. His articles have been published in Social Work, the Journal of Social Work Education, the Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, Metaphor and Symbol, and other journals. This is his fourth book, following Metaphor Analysis in Public Policy and Private Practice: A Social Work Perspective (NASW Press, 2019), Framing the Moron: The Social Construction of Feeble-Mindedness in the American Eugenic Era (Manchester University Press, 2013), and Contagion and the National Body: The Organism Metaphor in American Thought (Routledge, 2018).