Discussion: breaking the cycle of poverty | Social Welfare and Policy


Getting Started

The cycle of poverty has been described as a phenomenon where poor families become trapped in poverty for generations. Because they have no or limited access to critical resources, such as education and financial services, subsequent generations are also impoverished. How we can break this cycle of poverty? In most cases, the cycle of poverty is systemic in nature, meaning action needs to be taken to combat the root causes of poverty. Through leadership in the policy arena, social workers can assist in the development and implementation of policy to advance human rights as well as social, economic, and environmental justice for disenfranchised populations.

Upon successful completion of this discussion, you will be able to:

  • Analyze policies with regard to advancement of human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice. (PO 5, ILO 5)
  • Demonstrate character, scholarship, and leadership in becoming a world changer through application to personal life and professional social work practice.
  • Demonstrate Christ-like attitudes, values, worldviews, and ethical and professional behavior within advanced clinical practice. (ILO 1)


  • Video: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty
  • Video Link: https://fod-infobase-com.eu1.proxy.openathens.net/p_ViewVideo.aspx?xtid=93438

Background Information

Poverty is the root of many problems and can seem impossible to fight. In this assignment, you will watch a video about activists and individuals fighting poverty in West Virginia. The video highlights ways those in the social services profession can engage in the plight of others.


  1. Review the rubric to make sure you understand the criteria for earning your grade.
  2. Watch the 35-minute video, Segments 1–9, “Breaking the Cycle of Poverty,”. Transcript is available on the video site.  (If you are not already logged in to the Off-Campus Library Services (OCLS) website, you will be prompted to enter your MyIWU login and password.)
  3. For the first question of this discussion please identify what policy you will be analyzing during this course. 
  4. Navigate to the threaded discussion and respond to three of the following question sets:
    1. What insights did the video give you into poverty in the United States? Were you aware of the economic, social, and educational challenges in communities across the country? What information surprised you the most?
    2. In the video, Nicholas Kristof refers to the “invisibility” of poverty in this country. Do you agree that poverty is an invisible issue in the United States? When you encounter reporting about poverty, how are the stories told? Who are the subjects? What parts of the world are featured? Do you see poverty in your community? If so, what does it look like?
    3. In the video, Truffles did not discover that her son Johnny was nearly deaf until he was 18 months old. Why do you think his condition went unnoticed for so long? What factors do you think cause children in poor communities to be at greater risk for health problems?
    4. Evidence suggests that home visitation programs help improve early childhood development. What other changes need to happen at the policy level to ensure that the most vulnerable children in our society don’t slip through the cracks?
    5. In this country, how aware do you think most people are of the issues presented in the film? Why do you think people may not be more aware? What can be done to raise the profile of these issues?
    6. Which story or issue resonated most deeply with you? Why?
    7. What actions do you think you can take as an individual or as a group to make a difference in addressing one or more of the issues in the video?
    8. Sometimes we see something that moves us and we are momentarily inspired to act. Often, though, that momentum gives way as we move back into thinking about our daily lives. What can we do to maintain awareness of our wider world and particularly the inspiration we feel to make a difference?
  5. Your initial post is due by the end of the fourth day of the workshop.
  6. Read and respond to at least two of your classmates’ postings, as well as all instructor follow-up questions directed to you, by the end of the workshop.
  7. Your postings also should:
    1. Be well developed by providing clear answers with evidence of critical thinking by providing evidence from workshop resources to support responses (with APA citation).
    2. Add greater depth to the discussion by introducing new ideas.
    3. Provide clarification to classmates’ questions and provide insight into the discussion.
    4. Be posted on two different days during the workshop.
  8. Review the rubric that your instructor will use to evaluate your work. Self-assess your initial post and response using the rubric and make improvements as needed to meet expectations and ensure that your work fulfills all the requirements
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