Globe and Mail article: ‘The awful truth about social programs’

This Globe and Mail article comments on the lack of efficacy of human service programs in Toronto, particularly those aimed at serving poor people. These comments should sound familiar to those who have studied Social Role Valorization (SRV) and the related assessment tool PASSING, and by no means is limited to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, or poverty programs. Whether you agree or not with the writer’s assessment, it at least underscores the potential utility of regular, external assessment of human service programs, based on measurable, objective criteria. The PASSING tool specifically does this based on the criteria of Social Role Valorization.

A couple quotes from the article:

• “The evidence to date – such as it is – suggests that many, perhaps most, social programs do not make a difference, except to the legions of administrators and social workers who are directly and indirectly employed in delivering them.” Wolf Wolfensberger taught about this idea often, relating it to the post-primary production form of most modern economic systems in developed countries. The ‘need’ for jobs drives the creation of new societally devalued groups as well as keeping currently devalued groups in deviant status. This also raises the question of the pervasiveness of unconsciousness surrounding these economic factors as well as the failure of human services.

• “Some small, inexpensive interventions appear to work reasonably well.” Students and practitioners of SRV might think about the power of crafting valued social roles on the personal level (see page 78 in the 3rd edition of the SRV monograph).

The article also points out how many of these poverty programs are driven by non-programmatic considerations, including historical political decisions.

Marc Tumeinski

2 Responses

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  1. Written by Holly Morgan
    on November 25, 2012 at 12:02 pm
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    “This also raises the question of the pervasiveness of unconsciousness surrounding these economic factors as well as the failure of human services.” Sadly, in classrooms and communities around the world today people continue to speak and act unconsciously. These actions have huge and lasting impacts on the vicious cycle of individuals being devalued time and time again. The first theme in Wolfensberger’s ten themes of (SRV) Social Role Valorization focuses on the role of unconsciousness individual, organizational, and societal unconsciousness. In order to make an everlasting positive change in the treatment of devalued individuals, people must first begin to make conscious efforts in understanding and relating to those individuals that are devalued within society.

  2. Written by Angela DiPasquale
    on December 3, 2012 at 9:56 pm
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    The quote about the programs do not make a difference and don’t change anything really make it sad that the effort to help those people isn’t even helping. Wolfensberger says that it is hard to get out of a devalued state once one is there and we are finding many people falling from their valued positions because they need jobs. They are forced to take the plunge, when in my mind it is admirable to take any job to support one’s family. The society is harsh and it is not fair that it treats people these ways. I feel that in order to help those devalues people everyone else needs to change, not those who are devalued because they are trying, but they won’t get anywhere if the world doesn’t change with them.

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