Why collaboration is key to human services

May 17, 2019

Government and nonprofit agencies provide essential services to communities, but tight budgets mean they are often asked to do more with less.

That requires finding creative and innovative ways to fulfill their mission. One solution is to collaborate with other organizations that play a role in the lives of those they serve. Capella University associate faculty chair of human services and President of the National Organization of Human Services, Paige Krabill, PsyD, shares her thoughts.

A broader perspective

Traditionally, human services organizations have focused primarily on providing their specialized expertise to targeted populations. But in recent years, some of these organizations have become adept at seeing how they can help their clientele by advocating on their behalf with other service-based organizations.

For example, a human services worker who helps homeless clients learns that one of their clients cannot obtain emergency food stamps. The reason: a government agency requires that recipients have an address to be considered residents of the area served. The human services worker meets with agency representatives and legislators to change the requirement so that her clients, and others in the same situation, can receive food stamps.

Collaboration in the field

Once the shift in focus occurs, other opportunities to help may become apparent. A few examples:

  • Health Care. The changing landscape of health care insurance and government programs means individuals may be eligible for assistance was previously not available. But the complexity of the health insurance market is such that many individuals may not be aware of the availability of coverage. An informed, active human services organization can help direct people to the proper agencies, fill out the right forms, and take other measures to ensure their clients receive assistance that they are entitled to.
  • Public Safety. Crime is a social ill that can–and should–be addressed by more than just law enforcement agencies. Some states complete a comprehensive plan to coordinate efforts to combat human trafficking. A broad look at how to address the subject can originate within the human services department, but also involve law enforcement agencies, other state agencies, and various grassroots organizations.
  • Public Administration. Government agencies of all sizes attempt to engage their constituents to ensure they are meeting public needs. But the agencies often lack the ability to connect with their constituents due to time constraints, budget limitations, and other matters. At the same time, constituents can fail to recognize the power they have to shape outcomes.

Human services organizations can help bridge the gap of understanding, which can be a tremendous social benefit to communities of all sizes. With well-planned efforts to raise awareness, such as op-ed pieces, press releases, and community organizing, human service groups can elevate the conversation so that all sides have a voice.

The benefit of a multidisciplinary degree

Individuals who work effectively in human services benefit greatly by having an understanding of the functions and objectives of other disciplines. Social and cultural issues, public policy, and community resources all play into human services; a multidisciplinary view can make it easier for human services professionals to “connect the dots” for their clientele.

An online human services degreethat offers this multidisciplinary approach to learning can equip students with skills needed to serve as effective leaders and skilled collaborators, working with others in complementary fields to make change in the world.

You may also like

4 essential podcasts for social workers

The difference between human services and social work

Start learning today

Get started on your journey now by connecting with an enrollment counselor. See how Capella may be a good fit for you, and start the application process.