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What is human services? The history of human services in America.

Updated on July 12, 2011

Human Service workers may have one of the most interesting and challenging jobs. They practice in a variety of settings with a variety of clients on a variety of problems. The main goals of the profession,however, are the same. Human Service workers serve humanity by helping others to overcome problems that hinder them from meeting the basic needs of their lives. These may involving securing the basics of food, housing, or medical care. These needs cannot be met by the individual because of a lack of friends or family,or it many stem from physical or mental disabilities or it may be because of natural disasters or oppression. Whatever the issue the Human Service workers job is to assess the nature of the problem, develop a plan or program to address it and carry out that intervention. Human service workers do this to improve the lives of those around us on a personal and societal level.

Human Services is not a modern concept. In fact it has been around since the days of Feudal systems in old England where it was the responsibility of the Lord to care for his property this included the value of caring for the old or sick of his realm.Religious beliefs of the time valued charity toward the poor at this time but no unified system existed in which to do this.The lord of the realm was the sole determination of the level and quality of care provided. As the rural agricultural ways of life evolved into urban society new systems were needed. Society required new ways to address issues of poverty. Hence the poor laws of England were enacted. At this point in history however, the morality of poverty came under fire as society began to question the role of poverty. The protestant reformation with it's concepts of predestination, and Social Darwinism separated society into the deserving poor and undeserving poor. This meant that only those judged by society as deserving of charity would receive intervention or empathy. The undeserving poor, such as unwed mothers and alcoholics were considered deviants to be shunned and punished by society. Many conditions considered worthy of empathy today such as physical or mental infirmaries were harshly judged as the judgement of God on the individual or family as punishment for sin. This system was particularly hash in terms of women and children. In the 1870s with the help of Reverend S, Humphreys, The Charity Organization Societies were created. This society grew from a frustration with the current system's disorganized manner of distribution. The Society attempted to organize a system for matters of charity and relief. The main focus of the Charity Organization Society was to cut down on dependence and fraud in the system. Later the Settlement house movement started by Jane Adams provided a holistic approach to the issues of poverty. This movement emphasized concepts such as empathy and acceptance surrounding issues related to poverty. The Settlement House Movement also promoted the idea of comprehensive care in terms issue involving poverty. This movement encompassed a holistic approach to the issues of poverty. The poor were viewed as normal people experiencing abnormal circumstances. Settlement House proved quite effective in dealing with the problems of poverty but lacked widespread public support. The last Settlement house, Hull House closed for good in 1963. Finally with the of 1935 and the Roosevelt's New Deal and the Social Security Act do we see the kinds of reform that are the basis of the our present-day social service programs.


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