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NCJ Number: 201643 Find in a Library
Title: Plight of the Street-Level Bureaucrat: Lessons From Child Welfare
Journal: Community Corrections Report  Volume:10  Issue:5  Dated:July/August 2003  Pages:65-66,78,80
Author(s): William D. Burrell
Date Published: July 2003
Page Count: 5
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article addresses the concept of street-level bureaucrats and organizational structure in overcoming reoccurring crises.
Abstract: Through an examination of the crises in child welfare that have occurred in the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services, the article asserts that caseworkers, probation, and parole workers are street-level bureaucrats, a term borrowed from Michael Lipsky’s book, Street-Level Bureaucracy. Street-level bureaucrats are workers who are on the front-lines and who exercise a great deal of discretion in the management of every day business. However, when a crisis occurs like those that have taken place in New Jersey, the knee-jerk reaction of upper management is to limit the discretion of street-level bureaucrats. The articles discusses the importance of discretion to the ability of the street-level bureaucrat to get the job done effectively and efficiently. It next discusses how to best improve the effectiveness of street-level bureaucrats without limiting discretion or imposing undue supervision. The structure and environment in which street-level bureaucrats operate are described as crucial to the efficient operation of business. A clear mission, vision, and organizational values are important to define so that employees are clear about the agency’s purpose and its view of the future. Other recommendations include manageable workloads, available supervisors, and treating street-level bureaucrats as professionals. In short, a reorganization of the way in which agencies conduct business is crucial to avoiding crises and ineffective organizational responses to crises. References
Main Term(s): Child protection services; Organizational theories
Index Term(s): Organization studies
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