History, Role and Function of Human Services
The human services field encompasses a range of professions that help and assist people in various aspects of their lives, to meet everything from their basic social and psychological needs to fundamentally more practical ones, like getting food and shelter (Martin, M. E. 2007). Because some people or groups of people may often have trouble meeting these needs on their own, due to wide-ranging circumstances, human services professionals work in, and with, schools, family centers, homeless shelters, courts, drug treatment facilities, hospitals, and community agencies of all types (Martin, M. E. 2007). Regardless of the setting, human service workers share common goals, to provide clients with tools, resources, and support necessary to meet their needs, and the guidance and education to continue meeting those needs in the future (Martin, M. E. 2007). People who utilize human services may not have access to the support systems that others do, such as supportive families or friends, community, or other helpful means. They may also suffer from physical or mental disabilities, or may have gone through some trauma or displacement (Martin, M. E. 2007).
In some form or other, human services have been provided to the less-fortunate by such disparate groups as the church, the government, or wealthy local landowners. Feudalism, for instance, provided for the lower classes by allotting them a small plot of land to farm during England’s Middle Ages (Martin, M. E. 2007). They were basically slaves to the landowners, and could be sold or traded as property, but it was the landowners’ obligation to ensure that they were housed, clothed, and fed, life’s three basic necessities. Churches also served the poor, with able members of a community or parish getting taxed so that those less-fortunate members could receive aid. Poverty was neither viewed as a crime nor something for which to be ashamed, but, rather, the impoverished were seen as a necessary and unavoidable segment of society, and offered opportunities to demonstrate charity and goodwill (Martin, M. E. 2007).
With the end of Feudalism in England, and the shifting of societal organization, the poor faced new challenges, as well as a newly perceived image. The poor were no longer thought of as members of the community to be aided, but, rather, a spiritually condemned segment of society. With that came legislation against them, “poor laws,” which evolved into a social welfare policy, the foundation of which still exists to this day (Martin, M. E. 2007).
As they had in the past, religious groups came to the forefront in providing charitable services to the underprivileged. In the 1800s, the Reverend S. Humphreys Gurteen created the Charity Organization Societies, a Christian-based organization that served as a network of aid groups, organized to build self-sufficiency for individuals seeking relief, as well as avoid fraud and systematic abuse (Martin, M. E. 2007).
In modern history, the Great Depression led to record numbers of unemployed and impoverished Americans (Martin, M. E. 2007). With the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, human social services had resurgence under federal policies. Although some segments of the population were still kept under privileged (notably African Americans), Roosevelt’s New Deal introduced programs putting people to work, giving food and aid, and assisting the elderly and disabled (Martin, M. E. 2007). The particular outlook and condition of the times determines the amount and type of aid offered to less-fortunate, suffering members of society. Depending on these conditions, human social service workers respond appropriately to best serve those in need (Martin, M. E. 2007).
At the outset, human service professionals must fully disclose to clients the nature of services provided. This must be presented as a printed document, written in clear language. The document must fully...
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