July 25, 2011
Nature and Purpose of Human Services
The purpose of the human services throughout history has remained basically the same, to help those that cannot help themselves. To varying degrees though the interpretation of the above statement has changed and evolved. The act of helping has taken on many shades of gray, questions of; “Are we helping too much or too little?” have gridlocked political parties and law makers. Another continual changing element is the criteria defining those who cannot help themselves. Determining if one needs help because they are lazy and refuse to do for themselves or if one indeed is trying but just cannot seem to get ahead. Is it even our place to judge them? Or should we just provide blanket care when and where needed regardless of environment or circumstance? Barring the limitations of financial support and much needed quality education and tools, human service workers provide millions of clients each year with assistance in the simplest of needs such as food and shelter as well as the complex needs like mental health and substance abuse. Historical Overview
As with most of American laws and social structure, the origins of social services have evolved from the historic implications of the European models. Beginning in the middle ages of England the Fuedal system in fact viewed the poor as personal servants and estate care takers. Much like slavery the rich and elite class would own those less fortunate, using them as manual labor or household servants. The attitude was one of pity and a sense of obligation or responsibility to house and put to work the poor. Overtime this attitude changed from pity to disdain, the public viewed the poor as dirty vagrants and lazy. During the 1500s various acts introduced by Parliament to deal with the increasing population of poor people, the culmination was referred to as the Elizabethan Poor Laws, enacted in 1601. A national system paid for by taxing property owners and provided aid to the “deserving poor” and providing working materials to enhance trade. It also mandated the family’s role of the elderly and dependent, families were expected to care for each other in sickness and health where possible and were mandated to house their aging parents and grandparents. The system, while lacking specific tools to empower the poor, did provide for a more compassionate approach, and this was the norm until the 1800s. The increased needs of an ever-growing population required more intervention than just a defining a criteria to care for the poor, it required a community involvement or commitment from individuals to reach out and give to the needy. Charitable Organizations stepped forward to provide the poor with resources and programs to assist them outside of their governing parliament. There was still a disproportional amount of charities as compared to the growing number of homeless and hungry. Largely in part to environmental circumstances beyond many individuals control, drought, plague, and the ever-changing focus of trade, all contributed to why people could not provide their own basic necessities. America as a young country has the advantage of history as its gauge to serve its poor population, and although we have this advantage we too have struggled with how to serve the less fortunate. We enacted the Social Security Act in 1935 to provide a safety net for American workers, those too old to work could collect the money they paid into the system all those years of working and be ensured of medical coverage and treatment. A system that now; in 2011, is in danger of being exhausted, leaving those who have paid into it in jeopardy of never seeing any of that money when they retire. America also developed a welfare system designed to give monetary assistance to dependent children of the poor, but with widespread fraud and essentially...