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Team Managers in Local Social Service Departments in Israel as Bottom-Up Social Policy-Makers

Tamar Tzadiki and Idit Weiss-Gal
JHHSA, Vol. 43 No. 4, 324-345 (2021)

Following on Felice Perlmutter's work on the managerial role of social workers in social services, this article contributes to the still limited knowledge on the role of social workers in middle-management positions in formulating new policies `on the ground`. The study expands knowledge about policies determined by team managers in local social service departments in Israel. It occurs in the nexus between street-level bureaucracy, professionalism and managerial positions. Semi-structured interviews with 28 team managers revealed that they formulated `new` policies with regard to the provision of psychosocial services and material assistance (who gets what, when and how). This occurs when they resist official policy, when it is vague or non-existent. Most of their policy decisions are not documented and draw upon consultations with colleagues and superiors though not with clients. The team managers perceive these policies as a means for achieving balance between clients' well-being and budgetary constraints. Yet their decisions lack transparency, are decided upon without public discourse and may lead to greater inequity between clients.

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