What is Human Services?
The field of Human Services is broadly defined, uniquely approaching the objective of meeting human needs through an interdisciplinary 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 Human Services profession is one which promotes improved service delivery systems by addressing not only the quality of direct services, but also by seeking to improve accessibility, accountability, and coordination among professionals and agencies in service delivery.
Creating Pathways to Careers in Human Services Framing Competencies for Direct Service Workers
The Community Skill Standards define the competencies used by direct service workers in a wide variety of service contexts in community settings across the nation. Designed to be relevant to diverse direct service roles (residential, vocational, therapeutic, etc.), the standards are based upon a nationally validated job analysis involving a wide variety of human service workers, consumers, providers and educators.
What will they do?
The Community Support Skill Standards provide comprehensive descriptions of worker roles and responsibilities in twelve critical areas of competence such as Participant Empowerment, Community Networking and Advocacy.
Enhanced with illustrative scenarios and performance measures, the standards provide organizational leaders, trainers, educators and policy makers with the architecture for a comprehensive work force development plan.
The shift in the focus of human services away from large institutions to increasingly decentralize, sometimes neighborhood based, community settings has placed new demands on human service providers and workers.
Workers must know how to work with consumers and families to weave together a vast array of community resources, specialized assistance and natural supports to promote well-being, empowerment and community membership. These workers require training in a new framework of skills that incorporates the profound changes shaping the field, and assures them a viable future in the human services field.
Human Services Research Institute
The Human Services Research Institute (HSRI) is a non-profit, tax-exempt corporation founded in 1976 and based in Cambridge, MA. Through research, policy and demonstration activities, HSRI assists communities and government to build supports that are responsive to the aspirations and preferences of people who rely on human services to lead self-directed lives.
The development of these standards represents a national effort guided by a coalition of leading stakeholders including:
To order the Community Support Skill Standards, please send check or money order to:
The field of Human Services is a broadly defined one, uniquely approaching the objective of meeting human needs through an interdisciplinary 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 Human Services profession is one which promotes improved service delivery systems by addressing not only the quality of direct services, but by also seeking to improve accessibility, accountability, and coordination among professionals and agencies in service delivery.
Human Service Workers
"Human services worker" is a generic term for people who hold professional and paraprofessional jobs in such diverse settings as group homes and halfway houses; correctional, mental retardation, and community mental health centers; family, child, and youth service agencies, and programs concerned with alcoholism, drug abuse, family violence, and aging. Depending on the employment setting and the kinds of clients served there, job titles and duties vary a great deal.
The following six statements describe the major generic knowledge, skills and attitudes that appear to be required in all human service work. The training and preparation of the individual worker within this framework will change as a function of the work setting, the specific client population served, and the level of organization work.
Where Human Service Workers Work
Working conditions vary. Human services workers in social service agencies generally spend part of the time in the office and the rest of the time in the field. Most work a 40-hour week. Some evening and weekend work may be necessary, but compensatory time off is usually granted.
Human services workers in community-based settings move around a great deal in the course of a workweek. They may be inside one day and outdoors on a field visit the next. They, too, work a standard 40-hour week.
Human services workers in residential settings generally work in shifts. Because residents of group homes need supervision in the evening and at night, 7 days a week, evening and weekend hours are required.
Despite differences in what they are called and what they do, human services workers generally perform under the direction of professional staff. Those employed in mental health settings, for example, may be assigned to assist a treatment team made up of social workers, psychologists, and other human services professionals. The amount of responsibility these workers assume and the degree of supervision they receive vary a great deal. Some workers are on their own most of the time and have little direct supervision; others work under close direction.
Human services workers in community, residential care, or institutional settings provide direct services such as leading a group, organizing an activity, or offering individual counseling. They may handle some administrative support tasks, too. Specific job duties reflect organizational policy and staffing patterns, as well as the worker's educational preparation and experience.
Because so many human services jobs involve direct contact with people who are impaired and therefore vulnerable to exploitation, employers try to be selective in hiring. Applicants are screened for appropriate personal qualifications. Relevant academic preparation is generally required, and volunteer or work experience is preferred.
Employment of human services workers is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2000. Opportunities for qualified applicants are expected to be excellent, not only because of projected rapid growth in the occupation, but because of substantial replacement needs. Turnover among counselors in group homes is reported to be especially high.
Employment prospects should be favorable in facilities and programs that serve the elderly, mentally impaired, or developmentally disable. Adult day care, a relatively new concept, is expected to expand significantly due to very rapid growth in the number of people of advanced age, together with growing awareness of the value of day programs for adults in need of care and supervision.
While projected growth in the elderly population is the dominant factor in the anticipated expansion of adult day care, public response to the needs of people who are handicapped or mentally ill underlies anticipated employment growth in group homes and residential care facilities. As more and more mentally retarded or developmentally disabled individuals reach the age of 21 and thereby lose their eligibility for programs and services offered by the public schools, the need for community-based alternatives can be expected to grow. Pressures to respond to the needs of the chronically mentally ill can also be expected to persist. For many years, as deinstitutionalization has proceeded, chronic mental patients have been left to their own devices. If the movement to help the homeless and chronically mentally ill gains momentum, more community-based programs and group residences will be established, and demand for human services workers will increase accordingly. State and local governments will remain a major employer of human services workers, and replacement needs alone will generate many job openings in the public sector.
For more information check out Helping Those in Need:Human Service Workers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics