Human service history

8 August 2016

Identifying the rights of the individual as well as the best services for them has been an ongoing task since the early 1900’s. Several organizations have been started to assist in the care of individual populations such as the poor, children, mentally ill, and developmentally disabled. The ultimate goal of these organizations is to create a manageable and fully functional society. President Franklin D. Roosevelt introduced the Social Security Act of 1935 to assure the well-being of the unemployed (Woodside, 2011).

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The Social Security Administration assisted all unemployed be they disabled or elderly, and continues to provide financial support to qualified individuals. Prior to the 1900’s, the mentally and developmentally disabled populations were considered outcasts. Due to no known cause or treatment, hundreds of individuals were institutionalized in an attempt to remove them from normal society. The conditions of these institutions were atrocious and the habitants received no individual rights (Woodside, 2011).

Society’s solution to manage behaviors was to over-medicate and restrain which ultimately resulted in several unnecessary deaths. It wasn’t until the 1950’s that society called for institutionalized patients to be released to the community for outpatient care. The deinstitutionalization movement brought about a drastic change in the culture of society surrounding disabled individuals. By the 1970’s, mental health treatment had moved from isolated institutions to community based group homes much like the day habilitation centers we see today (Woodside, 2011).

This ultimately brought about the integration of mentally and developmentally disabled citizens into society causing the development of organizations specifically designed to offer the needed supports of the individual. The Clinton administration brought about the transformation of the welfare system and focused more on short-term assistance, training and education. The Workforce Development Act brought about the creation of One-Stop centers where people could receive a variety of services all in one location.

Services provided included the unemployment agency, Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID), training programs, and job development aid which helped with job searches and resume development. Prior to this initiative, the poor began to rely on the support provided by the welfare system and even became generationally dependent. This developed increased financial burden on the government and did not properly motivate those receiving assistance to become self-sufficient.

It was this dilemma that prompted the creation of the Temporary Aid to Needy Families initiative (Woodside, 2011). This initiative had very strict guidelines which required those receiving assistance to find work and also put a shorter timeline on the duration of benefits. The initiative also made recipients participate in work programs and comply with other regulations to maintain benefits. The stiff consequences imposed for not complying with these guidelines eliminates potential abuse of federally funded programs.

During the 60 year stretch between 1930 and 1990 there was a slow and steady movement by all levels of government to develop a system charged with the funding and control of major programs designed to assist with basic human needs. In 1996 the cry for assistance was answered with the passing of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. This act brought about such organizations as the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, VESID, Office of Children and Family Services, and Office of Mental Health (Levine, 2012).

These agencies all provided appropriate supports and assistance to the populations with disabilities. These major organizations made it possible to create agencies such as the ARC’s, Lifetime Assistance, Unity House, Halfway House, and Hillside Family of Agencies. Each of these agencies contain valuable programs that provide support to individuals and their families. These agencies are able to succeed through the guidelines set forth by the welfare system as well as separate funding sources.

Agencies like Hillside Family of Agencies contain several different programs like work scholarship, family finding, foster care, day treatment, and residential treatment designed to primarily assist children and families. Where agencies like ARC have programs consisting of vocational assessment, training and job development for those with developmental disabilities (The ARC, 2007). These individuals can also receive job training and assistance with work place assimilation including the use of job coaches. All designed to help individuals become successful members of society.

The biggest change in human services in my opinion is the healthcare system established in the late 1900s and even stemming into Obama care. These changes provide a more uniform approach to all around healthcare. The managed care plans helped control the appropriateness of sought after treatment and held patients accountable for these services (Levine, 2012). This was desperately needed due to the United States having the highest per capita medical expenditure in the world as well as the lowest percentage of people covered by subsidized healthcare programs (Levine, 2012).

The idea of requiring referrals to specialists made for a more thorough evaluation by primary care physicians and an all-around better healthcare experience for everyone. The overall development of human service supports has dramatically changed in the last 100 years. Prior to the 1900’s, many areas were stricken with poverty, lack of proper nutrition and healthcare. With the beginning of the Industrial Revolution these conditions changed. People began to eat more food, which was also increasingly nutritious.

Sanitation and immunization practices eliminated many common diseases. Infant mortality declined rapidly and the average life expectancy increased substantially. The profound impact on the population called for the development of appropriate systems to deal with the growth of the population. Healthcare reform, non-profit agencies and federally regulated programs have all played a major role in the human services field (Woodside, 2011). Welfare reform has decreased the number of families on welfare and increased the number of the families who are employed.

This is a very positive outlook on the future of modern day families and the path which human services is headed. Numerous programs have been developed that enable the individual person to thrive in society while providing the supports necessary to attain success. Long gone are the days of isolating, confining, and medicating people due to their abnormal behaviors and physical attributes. Welcome to a world where society has an increased level of understanding as well as empathy which ultimately led to a reformed idea of what it really means to assist people.

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