Effectiveness Within Human Service Organizations

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Effectiveness within Human Service Organizations
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What Does it Take to Make a Program Work?|

Cynthia Easter-Ward
11/18/2012
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Introduction
Today’s recession has forced human service agencies and the government to become partners in order to serve the poor. Government funding and grants have decreased and the needs of the poor have increased. According to an 2010 Urban Institute study on nonprofits, the government depends on nonprofit human service agencies to serve the poor (Boris, 2010). Consequently, human service agencies depend on government funding and grants. A financial shift have caused human service agencies to lose funding or cause the agencies to operate waiting on late payment schedules from the government that result in many organizations having to close their doors to needy people. Well known human service agencies such as Chicago’s Jane Adams Hull House, YMCA, domestic violence shelters, childcare facilities, soup kitchens and organizations serving the youth population have stopped providing programs and services because they do not have the budget to pay for the programs. Although many nonprofit human service agencies are funded by the government, a human service organization must compete to get a piece of the dwindling funding pie for its human service programs. The key assumption of this paper is because of the unreliability of government funding, human service organizations must become more effective with their program delivery, contingency revenue generation, and sustainability. In comparison, nonprofit organizations that provide services to the poor must compete for funding dollars like for-profit organizations compete for investment dollars. In order to be competitive, an organization must demonstrate that its program can meet multiple needs, it has a portfolio of funders to meet its budget, and more importantly that the programs works. The scope of the problem is how to develop organizational effectiveness. It would be of value to the human service field to know how to shift from ineffective program efforts to more sustainable effective program efforts. This study will investigate existing literature relating to effectiveness within human service organizations; effectiveness theories that are advantageous to human service practitioners; family-centered service approaches that can help achieve effectiveness; measurement and key performance indicators of effectiveness; and the role of advocacy and effectiveness. It is easy to think that a human service organization is effective because it operates and does what its mission states it would do, but stakeholders such as end-users and funders may see effectiveness differently. Judging of program effectiveness may sometimes be unclear because of a stakeholder’s vision of effectiveness. The effectiveness vision of the end-user is that a program can meet a need. The effectiveness vision of a funder is the program need to do more with less. Effectiveness in its simplest form means to produce or designed to continuously improve and produce a desired effect (APHSA, 2012). If an organization’s desired effect is to provide a hot meal to people in a geographical community, then a soup kitchen’s program effectiveness should epitomize a program with the ability to keep up with the demand of an increased number of people who need a hot bowl of soup due to a downturned economy. It has become typical that urban human service organizations remain effective while operating with conditions that include waiting for the late government grant check and the organization administrator not having the ability to pay the salaries that may result in the program being suspended. It is difficult to maintain organizational effectiveness when a woman that has no safe place to go shows up at a domestic violence shelter and is directed to go to the nearest police station because the shelter does not have a bed. All these are real world examples of human service...
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