Every once in a while you find yourself presented with a fun opportunity, and that’s exactly how Irv Katz found himself broadcasted over the radio in New York City last week. He was interviewed by Allison Sesso and Michelle Jackson for the Human Services Council’s “Human Services News & Views” radio show.
It gave Irv the opportunity to talk about everything from reframing human services to the larger challenges those in the nonprofit and human services sector face.
In terms of reframing human services, Irv said:
“As a field we’re very good about being evidence-based… but we are less evidence-based in how we communicate and how we relate to the public.”
The National Human Services Assembly commissioned the FrameWorks Institute to research and develop an evidence-based approach for how the human services sector communicates with the field. As Irv said, “We use comfortable terms like “safety net,” and frankly, research indicates that it’s not such a good term.” There are many more words that are commonly used to talk about the work the sector does that are equally problematic. The FrameWorks Institute identified those words in the, “Map the Gaps” report that was released last year.
Ultimately, the reframing effort will move the conversation about human services away from the narratives that dominate the public’s conscious and unconscious beliefs and attitudes in order to garner greater support for the field. “It’s not manipulation,” Irv said, “it’s connection. It’s about getting to the point where you’re talking about values… like opportunity and equality.”
The recognition that the human services field needs to be re-positioned and talked about in a different way is growing and gaining momentum. As Allison Sesso said on the show:
“When we talk to people, they say, ‘Oh no, my kid goes to child care; my mother is taken care of at the senior center; I benefited from an ESL program and job training in order to get where I am.’ They have this perception that they figure it out on their own even though what I said is four human services program hits. The human services programs are operating in the background and are not seen collectively as an industry.”