What Does the Public Think of Human Services and Why Does It Matter?

In their new article, “Reframing Human Services: Why and How,” Irv Katz and Karen Key argue:

“Human Services are at a point of inflection–a point at which changes in the external environment are so dramatic that current practices achieve diminishing returns and the choice for an industry or are of human endeavor is to either change course or become irreverent… Various state and localities and individual nonprofit agencies are considering or are in the throes of transformation, but, given the very major interdependence of federal policy and dollars and the realities of state, local, and agency levels, some degree of common understanding of desired outcomes needs to happen nationwide.”

In this exclusive excerpt, Katz and Key demonstrate how increasing awareness of the need to frame human services differently is changing how experts in the field do business.

reframing 111“NHSA and a growing number of its partners, including the Association of Public Human Services Association (APHSA) and several state and local human services coalitions, have concluded that examining the frame Americans use to understand “human services” is a critical step in the journey toward identifying and achieving the over-arching outcomes we all want for all Americans. It is not just about common language, images, and messaging; it is about knowing the extent to which the people and leaders of the country understand, value, and envision the contributions of human services (or human development strategies, if you will).

Health care, which started out as a wide array of professions, disciplines, institutions, and practices, has come to be seen as a single, unified field or industry that is the subjected of public discussion as we struggle with how we want it designed, financed, and delivered. NHSA believes that for the nation to make significant progress on meeting human needs (and preventing those needs and challenges that can be prevented) and on making it possible for the maximum number of Americans to achieve the best possible outcomes at every stage of the life cycle, human services/human development must become an aggregated whole as is now the case with health care.”

The article was published in the February 2014 issues of Policy & Practice. Read the full article here.
ind more information and resources about NHSA’s reframing effort here.

Policy & PracticePolicy & Practice is the most authoritative magazine in public human services, published monthly by the Association of Public Human Services Association (APHSA). Its comprehensive coverage offers insight from top experts on issues that affect human service providers and the people they serve.

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