It is essential for the human service provider to adapt to the changing environment of human services in this country and around the world. The 21st century has brought changes in institutional and community based services, in rural areas, industry and the military, technology, managed care, and international development, and accommodating new human service trends. Trend changes are affected by population growth, population aging, diversity, partisan politics, national security, and the roles of interaction between client and helper. Today’s human service worker is dynamic and adaptable to change brought about by unforeseen change both here in our country and around the globe. Staying in touch with new trends will solidify the quality of services provided to clients. Until recently human service delivery was primarily provided by agencies and institutions for the poor.
However, in some cases human service delivery was available in nontraditional settings such as schools, individual and family homes, military programs, as well as remote geographical areas. Today, community-based settings for human services are more common and widespread within urban communities throughout our nation (Woodside & McClam, 2011). Mental health is one main focus of community- based services. In the past, mental health was frowned upon and confined to state institutions and correctional facilities without the support of their families or adequate counseling. In addition, the homeless and unemployed are now able to receive services on the streets, in shelters, at food ministries, churches, recreational facilities and recovery centers to mention a few (Woodside & McClam, 2011). Community based facilities and nontraditional settings are also places for our youth to receive assistance. Youth in Need (YIN) is one example of a Human Service facility that helps with the well-being of young people and reaches out to troubled children and their families living in eastern Missouri. Outreach programs such as YIN exist around the world, reaching out to the needy with food, clothing, blankets, educational opportunities, and other resources and needed services (Woodside & McClam, 2011). Poor rural areas, disadvantaged minorities and the elderly have many of same issues in common with people financially stable. Therefore, trends facilitating change in rural areas can provide services such as mental or behavioral health to anyone in need. Community based Human Service agencies are equally in need in these areas, and will grow as the need continues to exist. However, problems may arise because of the barriers and accessibility in many of these faraway areas. In addition, problems may also arise with hiring Human Service professionals in remotes areas along with costly continuous training. More importantly there may be confidentiality issues and individuals may also be closed minded to professional mental health treatment because of embarrassment.
Rural residents may look to other nonprofessional sources such as religious institutions or social groups (Woodside & McClam, 2011). Human Services has traditionally been associated with services to the financially impoverished, but now industries and the military have a greater need for human services today. Addiction programs such as the Federal Comprehensive Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Prevention, Treatment, and Rehabilitation Act (the Hughes Act) passed in 1970 further advanced the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. This legislation became instrumental to workers so they could continue to be physically and mentally fit while continuing with their employment (Woodside & McClam, 2011). In addition, this legislation led employers to offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), providing multiple services beyond basic needs.
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) has also played a significant role in businesses accommodating disabled employees, military veterans, and their families. Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) of 2001, and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) of 2003, serves as a reminder of how human services provides much needed mental health services for our troops suffering from illnesses such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) (Woodside & McClam, 2011). Technology has had a significant impact on human services both positive and negative. Some positive effects are better filing systems for human service professionals as well as making services easier to research and receive for clients. Easier communication between human service workers and clients is another great advantage of technology. Social media has helped individuals in communities communicate with each other and share information (Woodside & McClam, 2011). One of the negative effects of technology would be clients Privacy.
Technology is not always safe due to people hacking systems and stealing information. Using computers helps human service workers to better manage and organize information pertaining to each of their clients. Technology has also been a great source to better deliver services to individuals more effectively. By using computer technology human service helpers can also ensure their client’s files do not get lost or misplaced when offices move to different locations or natural disasters occur. Computers also help with service costs and payment history as well as each service a client has received. Today we have smart phones which are great because people can use them as a computer or a phone making communication easier between people from all over the world (Woodside & McClam, 2011).
Some negative effects of technology in the human service field are client’s confidentiality and client’s information being stolen. Client confidentiality is a driving factor in human services it allows our clients to feel protected and safe. As a human service professional we have client’s birthdates, social security numbers, and addresses on file, so it would be very harmful if that information was to fall into the wrong hands. Hackers pose a threat to our client’s confidentiality which of course is a big kink in the system that computer programmers have been working on to ensure peoples information cannot be accessed by others.
Things such as firewalls and passwords have been installed into these programs we use today to help eliminate the threat of identity theft and peoples information from being leaked. The trends of the 21st century include the international focus on human services, increased immigration, emphasis on diversity, national security against terrorism, the increased development of technology, the aging population in America, political partisanship, the active participation of the clients, and the development of new skills among case workers (Woodside & McClam, 2011). As the global economy becomes more intertwined new trends will focus on international development in regions like Africa, Asia, South and Central America, and Eastern Europe. Immigration will present a greater need for bilingual workers bridging language barriers and demonstrating cultural sensitivity toward the needs of diverse populations. As a result of increased birthrates among many immigrant and minority groups the demographic profile of this country is rapidly changing to one that is multi-racial and multi-ethnic.
Human service workers will need to engage in continuous learning to stay abreast of this evolution of the 21st century population. There will be a need to understand the religion, politics, culture, and worldview of these emerging groups. Culture and worldview is only one concern, other areas of diversity are not to be neglected. This diversity includes race, color, gender, religion, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. This country will experience an increase the tolerance of other religions outside of the traditional Judeo-Christian doctrine and a movement supporting gay and lesbian concerns, as their belief in same sex marriage and government recognition. Because people are living longer, the human service worker is challenged to assist the aging population by establishing and maintaining his or her independence whenever possible. Independence, maintained by facilitation their continued living in their own homes, in-house nurse assisted living, out-patient care, and eventually hospice care (Woodside & McClam, 2011). Clients now and in the future will continue to be required, by human service agencies, to take a greater role in actively participating in their own self–help. One reason for greater client participation is that there may not be enough case workers to meet the need of the growing population. It will be the responsibility of the health service industry to institute effective coaching and mentoring of clients in how to help themselves become self -sustaining (Woodside & McClam, 2011).
Webster, S. (2014). Chron. Retrieved from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/positive-negative-effects-using-technology-communicate-21241.html Woodside, M., & McClam, T. (2011). An Introduction to Human Services (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole, Cengage.