Social Work and Policy

Social Work and Policy
Overview: The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a social policy implemented to deal with hunger among Americans. In 2018, SNAP helped around 40 million Americans from low-income families access adequate nutritious diets (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2019). SNAP offers critical nutritional support for low-wage households, low-income seniors, and persons suffering from disabilities, and other households with low-income. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (2019), more than 75% of the SNAP users are households with children, and around 30% are households with disabled people and seniors. Apart from the unemployment insurance, SNAP is one of the most useful and responsive federal policies that offer assistance to families during economic challenging times.
Unlike other benefits programs, SNAP is widely accessible by families with low incomes. The eligibility criteria for SNAP are set by the federal government making them universal across the country. However, the states can vary the programs to ensure proper implementation of the program. The federal government sets three main criteria for qualifying for the SNAP program, including that the gross monthly income must be $2,252 per month or less in a household with three people (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2019). However, families with seniors and disabled persons are not required to meet these criteria. The family’s net monthly income, less the costs of housing and child care, must be lower than $1,732 per month. The final criteria are that assets must reduce below $2,250 for a household. Every state has its application process. On average, SNAP beneficiary gets around $127 per month. In 2018, the federal government allocated $68 billion on the SNAP program and associated assistance programs.
The two contrasting policy positions on SNAP provide a good perspective on the public perception of the social policy. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (2019) argues that SNAP is a beneficial social program that has helped to improve the standards of living and give adequate diet to low-income and vulnerable families in the United States. The policy argument for SNAP highlights some of the benefits of the program, including the ability to protect the families from economic hardship and lack of food. A contrasting policy by Aussenberg (2018) argued that the SNP program was full of errors and fraud making it inefficient in the utilization of the resources. Some of the errors included trafficking of the SNAP benefits, retailer application fraud, fraud by applicants, and errors and fraud by state agencies. The errors and fraudulent activities counter the argument that the SNAP program is beneficial to the U.S. economy.
Comparison of the Policy Positions
The policy brief by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (2019) supports the implementation of SNAP to help improve nutrition and giving children from low-income households access to quality meals. The program responds immediately in providing help to low-income families during times of economic downturn. When the economy weakens, the enrollment in the program increases. SNAP program assists the families to overcome short-term unemployment and family problems. For example, when parents do not have a job, they will rely on SNAP to feed their children (Berkowitz et al., 2017). The program also assists without adequate resources to buy enough food for their children.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (2019) noted that SNAP benefits had lowered concerns of food insecurity among most American households. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (2019) also noted that SNAP also protects the entire U.S economy. SNAP benefits are recognized as the most efficient and effective way for economic stimulus because they increase money supply into the economy. Low-income beneficiaries spent the money on daily needs, increasing money supply into the economy during a recession. SNAP also reduces the degree and severity of economic hardships and poverty (Leung et al., 2017). The program is implemented as an anti-poverty economic tool that focuses on helping families meet their basic needs and reduce insecurities. SNAP is also effective in supporting a culture of healthy eating. The initiative gives low-income families access to healthy foods. SNAP also assists in responding to the inherent disasters quickly by providing essential food assistance to the affected families.
Unlike the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (2019), Aussenberg (2018) argued that the implementation of the SNAP program allowed for errors and fraud that impacted its benefits to vulnerable people and low-income families. The counter policy proposal explained four types of inaccuracies and misconduct in the implementation of SNAP. One of the types is the trafficking of SNAP benefits, which involves the illegal selling of the benefits to recipients and retailers (Bleich et al., 2020). Such illegal arrangements are acceptable and often lead to the misuse of federal government resources. Another major type of inaccuracies is retailer application fraud that involves illegal efforts by owners of stores to take part in SNAP while they are ineligible. Errors and fraud performed by the households will also make improper applications for SNAP benefits and thus, leading to unacceptable payments. Errors are unintentional mistakes. However, fraud involves intentional efforts by the households to violate the guidelines of the program for selfish gains. Errors and fraud associated with the state agencies cause huge losses of funds because agency errors will lead to significant improper payments. The quality control misconduct and the lack of fiscal supervision often lead to significant agency fraud. However, the congressional research service report agreed that fraud is rare.
Policy Solutions and Support of Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
The SNAP policy solutions incorporate the implementation of various strategies to improve the effectiveness and the benefits of SNAP among the participants. One of the policy solutions is the protection of the current level of funding for SNAP. Some of the congress members have argued against the program calling for the reduction of the budget of the program. There is a need to maintain and increase the SNAP spending to improve the health and the welfare of Americans. The budgetary cuts would hurt the children from low-income families and impact the economic recovery process. The second policy recommendation is the collection of data on SNAP purchases (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2019). The department of agriculture should gather adequate data and increase awareness of the data on the SNAP purchases to assist in enhancing the nutritional quality of the participants and the transparency and effectiveness of the program. The identification of the integrated strategies would be beneficial in the alignment of the purchases of the program with the appropriate dietary guidelines for the Americans. The identification and testing of transformative improvements on the program will improve nutritious diets and assist in the prevention of obesity among the low-income participants.
The Group, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, supports the policy solutions by repairing the damage of the reduction of the funding and restrictions of participants. There is a need for the federal government to reverse the restrictions made by the Trump administration to allow young children from immigrants to get access to the SNAP benefits. Such a program would be beneficial in fighting recession and improving the growth of the economy effectively (Berkowitz et al., 2017). Other effective policy recommendations recommended by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities will include focusing on the health of children with the program, use of incentives in making healthy foods easy choice, and creating improved food stocking standards for the retailers (Leung et al., 2017). The improvement of innovation of the program, creation of partnerships with SNAP, and the formulation of the national strategy will be critical in promoting the success of the food assistance program.
Social Policy Solutions Aligns with Social Work Values
Some of the important social work values are service, social justice, dignity, integrity, and competence. The implementation of SNAP is a service to the vulnerable people in the society. The SNAP program seeks to serve the needs of the people by providing funding for the benefits of getting nutritious foods at affordable rates. The policy solutions will perform research to collect data to improve integrity and competence by ensuring only eligible participants enjoy the SNAP benefits. Errors and fraud would make the implementation of SNAP a violation of the NASW code of ethics. However, the innovation of the SNAP application process and rectifying potential errors and fraud will improve the fairness and the integrity of the program (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 2019). The social justice value aligns with the SNAP policy solution to maintain the funding and ensure consistency in the registering of the applicants. Therefore, the SNAP initiative will be useful to low-income families to get nutritious and affordable meals and help them in recovery during economic recession times.

References
Aussenberg, R. A. (2018, September 28). Errors and Fraud in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Congressional Research Service. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R45147.pdf.
Berkowitz, S. A., Seligman, H. K., Rigdon, J., Meigs, J. B., & Basu, S. (2017). Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participation and health care expenditures among low-income adults. JAMA Internal Medicine, 177(11), 1642-1649.
Bleich, S. N., Moran, A. J., Vercammen, K. A., Frelier, J. M., Dunn, C. G., Zhong, A., & Fleischhacker, S. E. (2020). Strengthening the public health impacts of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program through policy. Annual Review of Public Health, 41, 453-480.
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. (2019, June 25). Policy basics: The supplemental nutrition assistance program (SNAP). https://www.cbpp.org/research/food-assistance/policy-basics-the-supplemental-nutrition-assistance-program-snap#:~:text=SNAP%20enables%20low%2Dincome%20households,individuals%20not%20participating%20in%20SNAP.
Leung, C. W., Musicus, A. A., Willett, W. C., & Rimm, E. B. (2017). Improving the nutritional impact of the supplemental nutrition assistance program: perspectives from the participants. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 52(2), S193-S198.

Posted in Social Work

Nano-engineering

The field of engineering is quite large, encompassing many branches, such as Nano-engineering. To put it simply, the branch of Nano-engineering incorporates aspects of designing, building, and utilizing engines, machines, and objects on the nanoscale. In this manner, Nano-engineering is engineering that concerns studying, developing, and refining materials at the lowest scale (Nano) possible. Provided with that, Nano-engineering can be considered the concrete application of nanoscience, which is comparable to how mechanical engineering involves applying physics principles. Accordingly, at its core, Nano-engineering is the interaction and use of nanomaterials for making systems, structures, and devices that are smaller and useful.
As per Umemura (2018), Nano-engineering enhances prevailing applications, materials, together with industrial processes, by reducing their size to the nanoscale for ultimately exploiting their distinctive surface phenomena and quantum portent. Taking that into account, there are two reasons why Nano-engineering is important. At the onset, Nano-engineering makes it possible to use nanomaterials, which have a comparatively larger surface area. Umemura indicates that having a larger surface area is important since nanomaterials are more reactive to chemicals and how their electrical and strength properties are affected. In this way, the nanomaterials are applicable in more ways. Apart from that, Nano-engineering is also important since materials can be produced in multiple ways. To be specific, Umemura (2018) articulates that with Nano-engineering, it is possible to produce nanomaterials in all dimensions, i.e., one-dimension like nanotubes, two-dimension like graphene, and in three-dimension like nanoparticles.
For the most part, Nano-engineering involves utilizing nanotechnology for designing, producing, and applying nanomaterials. Kelkar, Herr, and Ryan (2014) suggest that to understand how Nano-engineering works, it is essential to know the meaning of the term ‘nano’ that implies dwarf. Accordingly, Kelkar et al. state that the term ‘nano’ references an object or something that is one-billionth of a unit. To put it into context, Kelkar et al. (2014) explain that a human DNA strand, which is only visible under a microscope, is less than three nanometers. As such, Nano-engineering works by manipulating objects and things at this nanoscale to make nanomaterials that can be applied in areas where the objects’ original size could not.
Sengupta and Sarkar (2015) report that electron microscope development sparked Nano-engineering as a field in engineering. In the last 10 to 15 years, Nano-engineering has been applied to improve life in several ways. For instance, Sengupta and Sarkar state that Nano-engineering enabled chemists to make polymers that are molecules comprising nanoscale molecules used to make various products, like silicone heart valves and fiberglass, among others. More importantly, Sengupta and Sarkar (2015) mention that Nano-engineering made it possible to create chips that revolutionized machines and devices. Computers made from these chips are faster and cheaper to produce, which accounts for the increasing development and use of computers and smartphones.
At present, Nano-engineering is enhancing lives in both predictable and unforeseen ways. To start, Nano-engineering is extensively improving and revolutionizing many industry and technology sectors. Sharma and Hamid (2017) discuss that most commercial products nowadays rely on nanomaterials and processes. For instance, this is evidenced by how nanomaterials make superior stain removers and degreasers that are safe to the environment. Apart from that, nanoparticles are increasingly being utilized, especially for boosting chemical reactions, saving money, and reducing pollutants. Sharma and Hamid insist that Nano-engineering is currently being used to tackle some of the world’s issues, like climate change. To be specific, Sharma and Hamid (2017) articulate that Nano-engineering is being used to mitigate climate change through the development of batteries for electric cars to reduce over-reliance on fuel. As a result, climate change is slowly being prevented since Nano-engineering delivers products that are safe to the environment.
Progress is inevitable, and this principle also applies to Nano-engineering. However, shrinking objects and things to their nanoscale can affect their performance based on how the physical properties are modified. Consequently, mastering Nano-engineering holds a lot of promise for the future since it will be possible to apply it in all aspects of modern life. The prospects are limitless, ranging from application in medicine, whereby it will be possible to monitor recovery from surgery to develop internal devices that can change and control organ functions. Likewise, Goddard, Brenner, Lyshevski, and Lafrate (2018) suggest that Nano-engineering will revolutionize computer memory to develop ultra-dense memory storage that will provide enough capacity to store the increasing quantity of data and information.
To sum up, Nano-engineering is a promising and exciting field to study. Upon graduating in Nano-engineering, it will be possible to contribute to the development of research to society by having all the required expertise for pursuing careers as medical scientists or Nano engineers. In terms of contributing to research, graduating in Nano-engineering will open many possibilities for developing and creating nanomaterials that can continue enhancing our lives.

References
Goddard, W. A., Brenner, D., Lyshevski, S. E., & Lafrate, G. J. (2018). Handbook of Nanoscience, Engineering, and Technology. CRC Press.
Kelkar, D. A., Herr, D. J. C., & Ryan, J. G. (2014). Nanoscience and Nano-engineering: Advances and Applications. CRC Press.
Sengupta, A., & Sarkar, C. K. (2015). Introduction to Nano: basics to nanoscience and nanotechnology. Springer Publications.
Sharma, K. V., & Hamid, N. H. B. (n2017). Engineering applications of nanotechnology: From energy to drug delivery. Cham, Switzerland: Springer Publications.
Umemura, K. (2018). Nano-engineering and materials technologies II: 6th ICNNN 2017 and ICTMA 2017: selected, peer-reviewed papers from the 6th International Conference on Nanostructures, Nanomaterials and Nano-engineering 2017 (ICNNN 2017) and 2017 the 2nd International Conference on Materials Technology and Applications (ICMTA2017), October 26-29, 2017, Tokyo, Japan.

Posted in Engineering

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Week 12 Memo
Tanya Golash-Boza, Race and Racisms: A Critical Approach – Second Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2015.
In the chapter, Income, and labor market inequality, Golash-Boza Discusses the fact that the United States has become one of the unequal Western nations. The disparity has been propagated within the lines of race and gender such that African Americans and the Latinx get considerably minimal wages than the white racial group (Golash-Boza, 2015, 103). Racial inequality is not happening in terms of income levels but also within the labor market. Asians have the highest median earnings than whites, blacks, and Latinx in that respective order. Nonetheless, for as long as one can remember, white workers’ median income has been higher than that of black workers creating an earnings gap with many explanations attached to it.
In terms of gender, a wage gap does exist between men and women in the country’s labor market such that a woman will earn one average of 83 cents hourly for every dollar that a man earns. Furthermore, the differences in earnings by gender and also across the racial and ethnic groups are strikingly evident. The white woman will earn 81 cents for every dollar that a white man earns (Golash-Boza, 2015, 183). Nonetheless, the black woman makes only 65 cents for every dollar made by a white man, while the Latina woman will make only 58 cents (Golash-Boza, 2015, 184). From this analysis, it is clear that when analyzing racial inequality within the labor market while not considering gender, one will not get an accurate picture.
The differences in the income and labor market across racial lines demonstrate that discrimination is still present despite the affirmative actions and establishment of anti-discrimination laws and lawsuits. The author gives fundamental reasons why the discrimination persists, which are reasons I agree to. One of them is that it is very challenging to legislate discrimination away. Some employers are unconsciously discriminating the nonwhites and women (Golash-Boza, 2015, 196). The American society is ingrained with racial ideologies that its people now use to create individual perceptions. Entrenched stereotypes and implicit biases will have a white hiring manager unknowingly consider himself and other white people natural leaders. The nonwhites will take more effort to fit into such positions (Golash-Boza, 2015, 200). He could easily presume that the African American man is irresponsible and the Latinx individual can never be professional. These perceptions will significantly influence the persons hired into their working environment, making it challenging to end labor market discrimination. This will only happen when the racial stereotypes are eliminated.
Another reason for the earnings gap is the structural growth happening in particular industries and the construction happening in other industries resulting from global economic forces beyond the control of the country’s government. A government can choose to provide training programs to instill people with updated skills to fit them into the emerging fields. Notably, if these training programs can ensure that the trainees learn together without racial segregation, it becomes easier to falsify established racial stereotypes and reduce the existing racial disparities. Additionally, the entrenched inequality, patriarchy, and racial divisions within the labor market and small-business market will make it challenging to fight racial inequality. These matters make the United States increasingly unequal since the reasons for their existence are embedded in the country’s history and lifeline.
During this reading, the statistics presented were quite interesting and thought-provoking. It is incredibly intriguing that race and gender still determine the remuneration level a person deserves despite people working similar jobs. Notably, Goulash-Boza makes sense in stating that this has been the outcome of the constructed stereotypes within the society that have ended up harming even individuals’ income levels. Nonetheless, not everything is lost since these racial groups’ empowerment should help increase awareness on why equitable income levels and treatment in the labor market are necessary. From a young age, individuals need to have equal access to educational opportunities. Training and even economic opportunities will see them take part in the economic development of their countries. Racial discrimination hence becomes a thing of the past as the impact of these segregated groups is felt.

Posted in Economics