Posted On: Nov. 20, 2017
HISTORICAL ERAS IN HUMAN SERVICES History of human services provides us with interesting information, for example there has been a lot of moral progress in the last century and a half. This progress has been as a result of greater scientific knowledge and inheritance of our visionary and courageous leaders, who were instrumental in reforming state institutions , founded hospitals and not-for- profit organizations and were advocates for services for senior citizens and people with physical challenges. Contributions of elected leaders, who mobilized political opinion to create programs that brought hope and opportunity to the poor and needy. There has also been a dramatic change in public attitudes. As a result, we have greater approval and acceptance of human diversity, and even greater respect for need of every person to achieve highest potential in work and personal life. Instead of treating disabled persons with disdain, we now care for them and help seniors and people with disabilities to live their life as independently as possible and also as long as possible. We have not been able to change human nature though. We also have not been able to abolish human suffering. There is also an argument whether state or county government should pay for human services or not is not resolved as yet. However, the fact is that we have been able to make a positive difference in the lives of the people we serve. If we keep up the momentum, there is a possibility that we will be able to make an even bigger difference in the quality and nature of the society we live in. Right from the start of this century till date, there has been a very strong progress in the way individuals’ rights and services to be provided to them have been identified. Tremendous amount of development has been made in the organizations that are responsible for the care and well – being of the poor, children and mentally as well as physically challenged persons. The main focus has been in creating a society that is functional and manageable in nature. According to Woodside & McClam (2009), it was President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who introduced the Social Security Act of 1935, which fundamentally changed the role of the federal government in providing human services. Even now the Social Security Administration carries on the task of providing assurance of well- being to the unemployed or elderly and disabled persons. The focus is on providing them financial support and assists with the maintenance of contributing citizens of society. Prior to 1900’s, disabled personnel and people with mental health deficiencies were treated s outcasts with no identified cause or treatment. Hence, they were institutionalized in order to isolate them from the rest of the society. The main focus of treatment was restraint and over- medication which sometimes resulted into death as well. In the 1950’s, a movement began to deinstitutionalize which enabled these patients to move out to the community for outpatient care. By 1970’s, the major section of mental health treatment had been moved from sheer isolation of the institution to the complex atmosphere of the community (Woodside et al 2009). Willowbrook State School was one such institution that did excellent work in the field of human services. This opened the floodgates for shifting for the integration of physically challenged persons into the society and from this evolved the organizations which focused on providing the needed supports. Clinton administration focused on transforming the welfare system by putting more emphasis on short- term assistance, training and providing education. For this purpose, one-stop centers were created through Workforce Development Act, where clients could receive a variety of services located in one geographic area. These services were unemployment agency, Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals (VESID), specifically designed training programs, and the aid for job development where job searches and refining of résumé were carried out. Before this era, the welfare system provided a support on which poor relied quite a lot. But then it was taken for granted by generations, and thus put a great financial burden on the financial resources of the government. It also did not provide adequate incentives for people receiving assistance. Subsequently, Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) was developed under strict guidelines for participants with requirements to find work and put a timeline on the duration of funds received filtering into offspring of recipients. The new rules mandate that the individuals must participate in work programs to claim their benefits. They also have to comply with the rules and regulations to continue getting these benefits. This system makes sure that compliances is adhered to and thus avoids the possibility of misuse of federally funded programs. The period from 1930’s onwards saw a gradual shift from local to state, and regional and ultimately to federal planning , funding and control of major programs. These have been designed to deal with the basic needs of human beings. The concept was to develop a welfare state, in which needs of people could be met with from federally sponsored programs. “The trend changed with the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA)." (Brill et al 2009). Organizations such as VESID, OMRDD (Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities), and OMH (Office of Mental Health) were developed to provide the supports to populations with disabilities. Within each of these organizations are valuable programs that provide support. The evolution of the Supported Employment Program works in conjunction with the guidelines set forth through the welfare system and also by the funding sources that enable the agencies to thrive. Within this particular program, vocational assessment, training and job development are the key components. People can receive on the job training and assistance with work place assimilation for an undetermined amount of time, thus enabling an individual to seek community base job placement and ultimately become a production part of society. The overall development and recognition of human service supports has changed most dramatically in the last 100 years. Prior to this, many areas were stricken with poverty, lack of proper nutrition and healthcare. "The Industrial Revolution suddenly began to change these conditions. People began to eat much more food, which was also much more nutritious. Sanitation and immunization practices eliminated many common diseases. Infant mortality declined rapidly as the average life expectancy doubled." (Stark, p. 122) This had a profound impact on the population and the need arose to develop appropriate systems to deal with the growth of this population. Healthcare reform, non-profit agencies and federally regulated programs have all played a major role in the human services field. "Welfare reform has decreased the number of families on the welfare rolls and increased the number of the families who are employed." (Woodside et al 2009) This is a positive prospective on the future of the modern day family and the path which human services is headed. Programs have been developed to enable the individual person to thrive in society while providing the supports necessary to attain this level. We have gone from the day of suppressing many different populations of people due to their, what appeared to be, abnormal existence to a world in which the powers that be have laid a basis for understanding which led to a reformed approach to helping people. References Brill, Naomi I., Levine, J. (2005). Working with People: The Helping Process Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc. Stark, Rodney. (1987) Sociology Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company. Woodside, M. R., McClam T. (2009) An Introduction to Human Services Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole.