In social work practice and in program development, it is possible to make faulty assumptions about what clients need and what social work activities will lead to. Consider the following:
A team of social workers meets to discuss their services to low-income young mothers. One social worker states that what the young mothers need most is information about community resources. She proposes that the social workers’ activities consist of making referrals to programs for public assistance for income support, food stamps, medical insurance, employment agencies, and educational resources. However, another team member points out that most clients are referred to their program from the public welfare office and health care programs. This suggests that the clients tend to possess knowledge of these common resources and have been able to access them.
How might the team explore what problems bring the clients to their agency? What might the team learn from client assessments? How can the team verify the desired outcomes of their services? Developing a logic model will help the team see a logical connection between problems, needs, intervention activities, and corresponding outcomes. This series of logical connections leads to formulating a theory of change, that is, a theory about how our work leads to the outcomes for clients.
To prepare for this Discussion, imagine that you are part of a work group charged with creating a logic model and generating a theory of change. Select a practitioner-level intervention for which you are interested in analyzing connections. Consider how a logic model might be applied to that practice.
Post a logic model and theory of change for a practitioner-level intervention. Describe the types of problems, the client needs, and the underlying causes of problems and unmet needs. Identify the short- and long-term outcomes that you think would represent an improved condition. Then describe interventions that would lead to a change in the presenting conditions. Be sure to search for and cite resources that inform your views.
Dudley, J. R. (2014). Social work evaluation: Enhancing what we do. (2nd ed.) Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books.
Chapter 6, “Needs Assessments” (pp. 107–142)