Episode 255 - Dr. D. Crystal Coles: Privatization in Public Child Welfare...Good for the State or Good for the Child?

Monday, January 14, 2019, 8:23:49 AM

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In this episode, our guest Dr. D. Crystal Coles discusses her research pertaining to privatization within child welfare and the trajectory of experiences of children in the foster care system. She describes the different levels of privatization between and within state foster care and how these multisystemic variances can impact service delivery. Dr. Coles stresses the need for stakeholders to work together to understand the implications of privatization and to develop new and innovative ways to enhance service delivery.

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Average Rating: 4.6 stars (7 listener reviews )

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Average Rating: 5stars  thinking outside the box, Tuesday, February 04, 2020

By Courtney Gabamonte :

I really liked this podcast because I only thought of privatization in the prison system, but then thinking about it I work at a privatized hospital and we have our own rules under NYS too. I think it was important to talk about privatization as more than just good or bad because it is in effect now, and we need to be clear that we can't just erase it so how can we improve it and make it the best for the people we serve.

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Average Rating: 5stars  great episode, Wednesday, April 24, 2019

By Elizabeth N :

I am currently a student at the UB School of Social Work. Funnily enough, I just had a group presentation on private vs. public child welfare. I was excited to listen to this podcast to hear a professional viewpoint!
I found Dr. D. Crystal Coles to be knowledgeable and I enjoyed the manner in which she broke things down for the listener. I learned just how different child welfare varies from state to state and how difficult that can be for workers to deliver the best care possible for the children. I absolutely agree with Dr. Cole's point about staying informed as possible.

I share the same worries about privatization that Dr. Cole touched on in the podcast. A business model's goal is to make a profit off of their goods and services. I have trepidations about inserting children into a business model as the "goods." Alternatively, I do see Dr. Cole's point that since we are in a time where both public and private are being utilized, we as social workers must be up to date and familiar with the procedures of whatever sector we work in. Ultimately knowledge is power. Moreover, that knowledge can be used to inform policy makers.

I disagreed with Dr. Cole's viewpoint on the privatization of prisons. Evidence has shown privatization of prisons has created a culture of bribery and corruption and countless men and women, especially minorities, have suffered directly because of it. Additionally, there is less training available for prison staff and they cost more than public prisons. Despite this, I found the podcast to be interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing an opposing viewpoint.

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Average Rating: 4stars  review of episode 255, Sunday, February 10, 2019

By Epiphany McGee :

Privatization, in fields such as child welfare or prisons is a scary thought simply because these for-profit companies have a main goal of increasing profits. If the goal is to make money, this stands to reason that the comfort and/or safety of the individuals who are in these systems is not the priority. Dr. Cole points out that privatization is a business model that sell goods, people are not goods and so this model cannot effectively be applied to them. However, it is being applied to them in child welfare systems as well as in prisons across the United States.
Dr. Cole brings up the point that privatization occurs between states. For example, an organization in Oregon might bid for and win a contract for child welfare in California. This poses a problem because an organization in Oregon may not understand how the child welfare system in California operates and they may try to implement plans that are not conducive to that system. It is important that an understanding of a system be clear before trying to change it. Otherwise the individuals within that system are likely to suffer. For-profit organizations may care less about learning about the current culture and system due to a goal of increasing profit above all else. It is scary to think that our systems that are responsible for human beings are being entrusted to organizations that care about making money before all else.
I agree with Dr. Cole that the privatization of child welfare is something that has to be studied and not forgotten. It is important to understand how the organizations are operating especially when those that they are responsible for are not goods, but people.

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Average Rating: 5stars  privatization and child welfare, Sunday, February 10, 2019

By Eva B. :

Dr. Coles’ discussion about privatization highlights the importance of staying up-to-date about the newest developments and trends, as well as the need to be aware of the impact privatization may have on the families and children served by this system.
Privatization is often justified by its proponents as being more efficient and cost-effective. When one considers the various components or aspects necessary for the two systems to work together, one can only wonder if efficiency and effectiveness can really be achieved. Some challenges that I am thinking of include inter-agency communication and sharing of data, goal setting and role sharing/defining. I can only imagine that it would take a lot of time, money and other resources in order to have both, public and private, agencies work together smoothly and cooperatively.
The qualification requirements for workers in the private sector might also differ from those working at a public agency. In addition, government agencies are often reimbursed for staff training at a higher rate than their private counterparts. Again, this is a financial consideration for the private agency: will it invest in training for a sufficient amount of workers; will the agency provide limited training opportunities or perhaps only mandatory ones; or will the private agency hire fewer workers in order to save money that they will use to offset the cost for their training? The latter two possibilities could potentially have serious consequences for the workers themselves (such as high burnout rates) and the families they serve (poor service quality).
I agree with Dr. Coles in the need for social workers to stay/ become informed about privatization processes, and to continue advocating for their clients in order to educate and raise awareness in communities and at the legislative level about the need for first assuring effective services for children and their families.

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Average Rating: 5stars  interesting time in child protection, Monday, February 04, 2019

By Meg D :

The idea of Social Workers having active roles in policy making is a something we have spoken extensively in several classes including SW500 Social Welfare History and Policy at UB. Without social workers taking either being consulted or having an active role in policy making, there will continue to be gaps in policy’s and the populations they seek to engage (protect, help, regulate, etc). Social workers are the experts of their clients needs, and their training and experience really does allow them to understand the societal barriers and limitations experienced by clients. I liked that Dr Coles highlighted this need and the gap in the system, especially when she named all of the stakeholders involved in child welfare, and broader policy making, and their importance for the system.

I also believe that there needs to be more conversation surrounding the benefits and limitations of public vs private child welfare services. I agree with Dr Coles, that the days of a purely public and a purely private are gone, and we are in a world where we are seeing more public-private partnership. I also understand when she discussed the concern that people have when they hear ‘privatization’, because I share that same concern. Like Dr Coles said, the children and their families need to be at the center of all child welfare. Privatization and business models concern me because in the private sector there is always a bottom line, and I worry that children and families will become a victim to this bottom line. As we heard in the podcast businesses focus on goods, while social workers look at people.

Thank you for also highlighting the theoretical frameworks that grounded your research. It was helpful to me, the listener! I really enjoyed this podcast, there were great questions, and it was a really interesting conversation.

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Average Rating: 4stars  social work and policy, Thursday, January 31, 2019

By Sara :

I really enjoyed this podcast and Dr. Coles outlook on Social Workers in policy. Utilizing the skills that Social Workers learn through their trainings can benefit the way in which policies are explained to the public and private businesses. Many times people within the social work profession downplay their skills in negotiation and being able to take into consideration both sides of many different sides. In micro practice we do not judge a client based on their actions and we meet them where they are at within their values and belief systems. If we could take this practice into macro work and develop policies in which the public good is being thought of in conjunction with monetary benefits.

In response to privatization specifically within child welfare I have seen bidding on contracts based on county needs within the system. As a worker within the child welfare sphere this directly impacts me in not only where I will work, but also the policies I have to follow, and the amount of work I will get. My organization may have a contract with Niagara County one year, but lose the bid the next. This creates job instability and if you are not aware of the potential change can be very detrimental to your career.

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Average Rating: 4stars  i beleive in the idea, but i beleive we must be cautious, Tuesday, January 29, 2019

By Anonymous :

When I was first listening to the podcast, I wasn’t sure on how much I would agree with Dr. Coles when it came to the privatization of child welfare. With so many different systems spread throughout the states it can be difficult for one state to just drop its own system just because another states system is working. I did also agree with Dr. Coles when she was talking about a Social Worker’s role in the policy making process. Without Social Workers to show the issues to these policy makers and explain the major issues and how they actual impact of these issues it can be very difficult for them to have that connection with the people. When she said that Social workers are needed to give the policy makers a perspective from the baseline or to give them a hands-on experience to policy making.
One area where I disagreed with Dr. Coles is when she mentions the privatization of prison system. The data has constitution shown that in the states that have allowed for the private prisons to operate not only do they pay the same for these prisons, but they are shown to have less care for the prisoners, are subject to less training for the staff, more overcrowding of prisoners and some reports of issues being swept under the rug. I believe that we must look when business should intervene in the world and when privatization should enter certain fields of social work.
I believe that Dr. Coles research is very important because she is showing us that private organizations are going to be making a huge difference in the framework of how future social workers are taught. I may not agree with all of her perspectives of what she believes on privatizations, but I do believe that privatizations are an important part to Social Work itself and that if we simply ignore it we will simply be living in the dark.

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