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Human services is an interdisciplinary field of study with the objective of meeting human needs through an applied knowledge base, focusing on prevention as well as remediation of problems, and maintaining a commitment to improving the overall quality of life of service populations. The process involves the study of social technologies (practice methods, models, and theories), service technologies (programs, organizations, and systems), and scientific innovations designed to ameliorate problems and enhance the quality of life of individuals, families and communities to improve the delivery of service with better coordination, accessibility and accountability. The mission of human services is to promote a practice that involves simultaneously working at all levels of society (whole-person approach) in the process of promoting the autonomy of individuals or groups, making informal or formal human services systems more efficient and effective, and advocating for positive social change within society. Human services practitioners strive to advance the autonomy of service users through civic engagement, education, health promotion and social change at all levels of society. Practitioners also engage in advocating so human systems remain accessible, integrated, efficient and effective. Human services academic programs can be readily found in colleges and universities, which award degrees at the associate, baccalaureate, and graduate levels. Human services programs exist in countries all around the world.


History


United States

Human services has its roots in
charitable The practice of charity means the Volunteering, voluntary giving of help to those in need, as a Humanitarianism, humanitarian act. There are a number of Philosophy, philosophies about charity, often associated with religion. Effective altruism is th ...
activities of religious and civic organizations that date back to the Colonial period. However, the academic discipline of human services did not start until the 1960s. At that time, a group of college academics started the new human services movement and began to promote the adoption of a new ideology about human service delivery and
professional A professional is a member of a profession or any person who earns a living from a specified professional activity. The term also describes the standards of education and training that prepare members of the profession with the particular knowled ...
ism among traditional helping disciplines. The movement's major goal was to make service delivery more efficient, effective, and humane. The other goals dealt with the reeducation of traditional helping professionals to have a greater appreciation of the individual as a whole person (
humanistic psychology Humanistic Psychology is a psychological perspective that arose in the mid-20th century in answer to two theories: Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory and B. F. Skinner's behaviorism. Thus it was referred to as the "third force" in psychology. T ...
) and to be accountable to the communities they serve (
postmodernism Postmodernism is an intellectual stance or mode of discourse defined by an attitude of philosophical skepticism, skepticism toward what it describes as the meta-narrative, grand narratives and ideology, ideologies of modernism, as well as oppos ...
). Furthermore, professionals would learn to take responsibility at all levels of
government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Departmen ...

government
, use systems approaches to consider human problems improvements, and be involved in progressive social change. Traditional academic programs such as
education Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, value (ethics), values, morals, beliefs, habits, and personal development. Educational methods include teaching, training, storytelling, discussion ...

education
,
nursing Nursing is a profession within the health care Healthcare is the maintenance or improvement of health Health is a state of physical, mental and social well-being Well-being, also known as ''wellness'', ''prudential value'' or ''qua ...

nursing
,
social work Social work is an academic discipline and practice-based profession A Profession is a disciplined group of individuals who adhere to ethical standards and who hold themselves out as, and are accepted by the public as possessing special kno ...

social work
,
law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its boundari ...
and
medicine Medicine is the science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as facts ( descriptive knowledge), skills (proced ...

medicine
were resistant to the new human services movement's ideology because it appeared to challenge their professional status. Changing the traditional concept of professionalism involved rethinking consumer control and the distribution of power. The new movement also called on human service professionals to work for
social change Social change involves alteration of the social order The term social order can be used in two senses: In the first sense, it refers to a particular system of social structures and institution Institutions, according to Samuel P. Huntingt ...
. It was proposed that the reduction of the monopolistic control of professionals could result individual of knowledge and would lead to professionals advocating on behalf of clients and communities against professional establishments. The movement also hoped that human service delivery systems would become integrated, comprehensive, and more accessible, which would make them more humane for service users. Ultimately, the resistance from traditional helping professions served as the impetus for a group of educators in
higher education Higher education is tertiary education leading to award of an academic degree. Higher education, also called post-secondary education, third-level or tertiary education, is an optional final stage of formal learning that occurs after completion ...
to start the new academic discipline of human services. Some maintain that the human services discipline has a concrete identity as a profession that supplements and complements other traditional professions. Yet other professionals and scholars have not agreed upon an authoritative definition for human services.


Academic programs


United States


Development

Chenault and Burnford argued that human services programs must educate and train students at the graduate or postgraduate level if human services hoped to be considered a proper professional discipline. A progressive graduate human services program was established by
Audrey CohenAudrey C. Cohen (May 14, 1931 – March 10, 1996) was the founding president of Metropolitan College of New York, a non-profit, private institution known for its unique curricular structure and commitment to experiential education. An educational vi ...
(1931–1996), who was considered an innovative educator for her time. The Audrey Cohen College of Human Services, now called the
Metropolitan College of New York Metropolitan College of New York (MCNY), formerly Audrey Cohen College, is a private, not-for-profit institution of higher education in New York City New York City (NYC), often simply called New York, is the List of United States cities b ...
, offered one of the first graduate programs in 1974. In the same time period,
Springfield College Springfield College is a private college in Springfield, Massachusetts. The institution confers undergraduate and graduate degrees. Known as the History of basketball, birthplace of basketball, the sport was invented there in 1891 by Canadian-Am ...
in
Massachusetts Massachusetts (, ), officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * ...

Massachusetts
became a major force in preserving human services as an academic discipline. Currently, Springfield College is one of the oldest and largest human services program in the United States. Manpower studies in the 1960s and 70s had shown that there would be a shortage of helping professionals in an array of service delivery areas.Cohen, 1969.Kadish, 1969. In turn, some educators proposed that the training of nonprofessionals (e.g., mental health technicians) could bridge this looming personnel shortage. One of the earliest educational initiatives to develop undergraduate curricula was undertaken by the
Southern Regional Education Board The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization based in Atlanta, Georgia, that works to improve education at every level in its 16 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia (U.S. state), Georgia, K ...
(SREB), which was funded by the National Institute on Health. Professionals of the SREB Undergraduate Social Welfare Manpower Project helped colleges develop new social welfare programs, which later became known as human services. Some believed
community college A community college is a type of educational institution An educational institution is a place where people of different ages gain an education Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, ...
human services programs were the most expedient way to train
paraprofessional Paraprofessional is a title given to individuals in various occupational fields, such as education, healthcare, engineering, and law. Historically, paraprofessionals assisted the master professional of their field. In more recent times, paraprofessi ...
s for direct service jobs in areas such as mental health. Currently, a large percentage of human services programs are run at the community college level. The development of community college human services programs was supported with government funding that was earmarked for the federal new careers initiatives. In turn, the federally funded New Careers Program was created to produce a nonprofessional career track for economically disadvantaged, underemployed, and unemployed adults as a strategy to eradicate poverty within societyGrosser, Henry, & Kelly, 1969.Haskell, 1969.Pearl & Riessman, 1965.Riessman & Popper, 1968. and to end a critical shortage of health-care personnel. Graduates from these programs successfully acquired employment as paraprofessionals, but there were limitations to their
upward mobility Social mobility is the movement of individuals, families, households, or other categories of people within or between social strata in a society. It is a change in social status Social status is the level of social value a person is conside ...
within social service agencies because they lacked a graduate or professional degree.


Current programs

Currently, there are academic programs in human services at the associate, baccalaureate, and graduate levels. There are approximately 600 human services programs throughout the United States. An online directory of human services programs lists many (but not all) of the programs state y state in conjunction with their
accreditation Accreditation is a third-party attestation related to a conformity assessment body (such as certification body, inspection body or laboratory) conveying formal demonstration of its competence to carry out specific conformity assessment tasks (such ...

accreditation
status from the Council for Standards in Human Services Education (CSHSE). The CSHSE offers accreditation for human services programs in higher education. The accreditation process is voluntary and labor-intensive; it is designed to assure the quality, consistency, and relevance of human service education through research-based standards and a peer-review process. According to the CSHSE's webpage there are only 43 accredited human services programs in the United States. The Standards for each level of degree accredited by CSHSE can be obtained by clicking on the following links:
National Standards for Associate Degree in Human Services

National Standards for a Baccalaureate Degree in Human Services

National Standards for a Masters Degree in Human Services
Human services curricula are based on an interdisciplinary knowledge foundation that allows students to consider practical solutions from multiple disciplinary perspectives. Across the curriculum human services students are often taught to view human problems from a socioecological perspective (developed by
Urie Bronfenbrenner Urie Bronfenbrenner (April 29, 1917 – September 25, 2005) was a Russian-born American psychologist who is most known for his ecological systems theory.Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979).The ecology of human development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University ...
) that involves viewing human strengths and problems as interconnected to a family unit, community, and society. This perspective is considered a "whole-person perspective". Overall, undergraduate programs prepare students to be human services generalists while master's programs prepare students to be human services administrators, and doctoral programs prepare students to be researcher-analysts and college-level educators. Research in this field focuses on an array of topics that deal with direct service issues, case management, organizational change, management of human service organizations, advocacy,
community organizing Community organizing is a process where people who live in proximity to each other come together into an organization that acts in their shared self-interest. Unlike those who promote more-consensual community building, community organizers gen ...
,
community development The United Nations defines community development as "a process where community members come together to take collective action and generate solutions to common problems." It is a broad concept, applied to the practices of civic leaders, activists, ...
, social welfare policy, service integration,
multiculturalism The term multiculturalism has a range of meanings within the contexts of sociology Sociology is a social science Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes r ...

multiculturalism
, integration of technology, ,
social justice Social justice is justice in terms of the distribution of wealth Wealth is the abundance of valuable financial asset A financial asset is a non-physical asset whose value is derived from a contractual claim, such as deposit (finance), ban ...
, development, and social change strategies.


Certification and continuing education


United States

The Center for Credentialing & Education (CCE) conceptualized the Human Services-Board Certified Practitioner (HS-BCP) credential with the assistance of the National Organization for Human Services (NOHS) and the Council for Standards in Human Service Education (CSHSE). The credential was created for human services practitioners seeking to advance their careers by acquiring independent verification of their practical knowledge and educational background. Graduates from human services programs can obtain a Human Services Board Certified Practitioner (HS-BCP) credential offered by the Center for Credentialing & Education (CCE). The HS-BCP certification ensures that human services practitioners offer quality services, are competent service providers, are committed to high standards, and adhere to the NOHS ''Ethical Standards of Human Service Professionals'', as well as to help solidify the professional identity of human services practitioners. HS-BCPE Experience Requirements for the certification: HS-BCP applicants must meet post-graduation experience requirements to be eligible to take the examination. However, graduates of a CSHSE accredited degree program may sit for the HS-BCP exam without verifying their human services work experience. Otherwise experience requirements for candidates not from a CSHSE accredited program are as follows: Associate degree with post degree experience requires three years, including a minimum of 4,500 hours; Bachelor's Degree with post degree experience requires two years, including a minimum of 3,000 hours; Master's or Doctorate with post degree experience requires one year, including a minimum of 1,500 hours. The HS-BCP exam is designed to verify a candidate's human services knowledge. The exam was created as a collaborative effort of human services subject-matter experts and normed on a population of professionals in the field. The HS-BCP exam covers the following areas: # Assessment, treatment planning, and outcome evaluation # Theoretical orientation/interventions # Case management, professional practice, and ethics # Administration, program development/evaluation, and supervision


Employment outlook


United States

Currently, the three major employment roles played by human services graduates include providing direct service, performing administrative work, and working in the community. According to the
Occupational Outlook Handbook A job, employment, work or occupation, is a person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousness, and being a part of a culturally establ ...
, published by the
US Department of Labor The United States Department of Labor (DOL) is a cabinet-level department of the U.S. federal government responsible for occupational safety and health, wage and hour standards, unemployment benefits, reemployment services, and some economic ...
, the employment of human service assistants is anticipated to grow by 34% through 2016, which is faster than average for all occupations. There will also be excellent job opportunities for individuals with post-secondary degrees. But salaries remain low, which might reflect employers' lack of understanding of the human services profession.


Professional organizations


North America

There are several different professional human services organizations for professionals, educators, and students to join across North America.


United States

The National Organization for Human Services (NOHS) is a professional organization open to educators, professionals, and students interested in current issues in the field of human services. NOHS sponsors an annual
conference A conference is a meeting of people who "confer" about a topic. Conference types include: * Academic conference, in science and academic, a formal event where researchers present results, workshops, and other activities. * Athletic conference, a ...
in different parts of the United States. In addition, there are four independent human services regional organizations: (a) Mid-Atlantic Consortium for Human Services, (b) Midwest Organization for Human Services, (c) New England Organization for Human Service, and the (d) Northwest Human Services Association. All the regional organizations are also open to educators, professionals, students and each regional organization has an annual conference in different locations throughout their region such as universities or institutions. Human services special interest groups also exist within the
American Society for Public Administration American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) is a membership association of almost 10,000 professionals in the United States sponsoring conferences and providing professional services primarily to those who study the implementation of govern ...
(ASPA) and the
American Educational Research Association The American Educational Research Association, or AERA ("A-E-R-A"), is a professional organization representing education researchers in the United States and around the world. As a nonprofit serving the education research field, AERA strives to ...
(AERA). The ASPA subsection is named the Section on Health and Human Services Administration and its purpose is to foster the development of knowledge, understanding and practice in the fields of health and human services administration and to foster professional growth and communication among academics and practitioners in these fields. Fields of health and human services administration share a common and unique focus on improving the quality of life through client-centered policies and service transactions. The AERA special interest group is named the Education, Health and Human Service Linkages. Its purpose is to create a community of researchers and practitioners interested in developing knowledge about comprehensive school health, school linked services, and initiatives that support children and their families. This subgroup also focuses on interpersonal collaboration, integration of services, and interdisciplinary approaches. The group's interests encompass interrelated policy, practice, and research that challenge efforts to create viable linkages among these three distinct areas. The American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) is a nonprofit organization that pursues distinction in health and human services by working with policymakers, supporting state and local agencies, and working with partners to promote innovative, integrative and efficient solutions in health and human services policy and practice. APHSA has individual and student memberships.


Canada

The Canadian Institute for Human Services is an
advocacy Advocacy is an activity Activity may refer to: * Action (philosophy), in general * Human activity: human behavior, in sociology behavior may refer to all basic human actions, economics may study human economic activities and along with cyber ...
,
education Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, value (ethics), values, morals, beliefs, habits, and personal development. Educational methods include teaching, training, storytelling, discussion ...

education
and action-research organization for the advancement of health equity,
progressive education Progressive education is a pedagogical Pedagogy (), most commonly understood as the approach to teaching, is the theory and practice of learning Learning is the process of acquiring new understanding Understanding is a psychological proc ...
and social innovation. The institute collaborates with researchers, field practitioners, community organizations, socially conscious companies—along with various levels of government and educational institutions—to ensure the Canadian health and human services sector remains accountable to the greater good of Canadian civil society rather than short-term professional, business or economic gains.


See also


References


Further reading

*Brager, G., & Holloway, S. (1978). ''Changing human services organizations: Political and practice''. New York, NY: The Free Press. * Bronfenbrenner, U. (2005). ''Making human beings human: Biological perspectives on human development''. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. *Cimbala, P.A., & Miller, R.M. (1999). ''The Freedman's Bureau and Reconstruction''. New York, NY: Fordham University Press. *Colman, P. (2007). ''Breaking the chains: The crusade of Dorothea Lynde Dix''. New York, NY: ASJA Press. *De Tocqueville, A. (2006). ''Democracy in America'' (G. Lawrence, Trans.). New York, NY: Harper Perennial Modern Classic (Original work published 1832). * *Friedman, L. J. (2003). Giving and caring in early America 1601-1861. In L.J. Friedman, & M.D. McGarvie, ''Charity, philanthropy, and civility in American history'' (pp. 23–48). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. *Hasenfeld, Y. (1992). ''The nature of human service organizations''. In Y. Hasenfeld, Human Services as Complex Organizations (pp. 3–23). Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications. *Marshall, J. (2011). ''The life of George Washington''. Fresno, CA: Edwards Publishing House. *Nellis, E.G., & Decker, A.D. (2001). ''The eighteenth-century records of the Boston overseers of the poor''. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press. *Neukrug, E. (2016). ''Theory, practice, and trends in human services: An introduction'' (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Cengage. *Slack, P. (1995). ''The English Poor Law, 1531-1782''. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. *Trattner, W.I. (1999). ''From Poor Law to welfare state: A History of social welfare in America''. New York, NY: The Free Press. {{Authority control Academic disciplines Community building Human sciences