Evolution of Human Services Research Paper
Human service is one of the fields that has continued to evolve over the past ages. This evolution is one of the reasons why policymakers have difficulty dealing with human services (Zins, 2001). To redesign human services to fit the social and academic realms, there is a need to look and understand the history of human services. By looking at the past of human services from the early 11th century, we shall analyze the key advancements that have shaped the field up to the modern-day.
11th Century Almshouse
One of the ancient human services from the 11th century is the almshouse. An almshouse or poorhouses are places that are targeted towards helping the poor people. A poorhouse, also known as a workhouse, is aimed at helping people from poor backgrounds that for one reason or another have been unable to pay their rent or have been rejected by their families.
Such target groups include widows, widowers, the elderly, and orphans. The origin of poor houses extends from religious groups. Church systems often adopted the poor in the society who could not help themselves. This was later extended to the local authorities and other local officials.
By the 16th century, the church and other social institutions were managing human services. However, their provision of services was messy and disorganized. The English government, on the other hand, was repressive and punitive in handling matters of poverty and vagrancy (Kunze, 1971).
To sort this issue, the first poor law was set in 1536. This law was further supported in 1547, through taxes that were levied to specifically help the poor in the community. These taxes were further aided in 1576 when the government of England set the rule that the local authorities should provide aid to the poor by the provision of raw materials to aid them in getting work done.
The 17th century saw the introduction of the Elizabethan Poor Law. The law was introduced in 1601. The law set a requirement for parishes. The parishes had to select certain overseers for the poor. A minimum of two overseers was required for each parish and the main role of the overseer was to set and collect taxes to help the poor.
The tax was collected from the landowners. After collection of the taxes, the overseer was responsible for the equitable distribution of food and money to the poor in the community. The overseer was not paid a salary.
In the 18th century, most of Europe was emerging from the Renaissance period. This is a period that saw England rise from a slumber in various aspects including academics. During this period, there was the advancement of technology and psychology. One particular physician, Philippe Pinel, was instrumental in the development of humane psychological approaches.
Through Pinel’s work, early discovery of some conditions such as dementia was made possible which enabled a better understanding of special human needs. To add on, Pinel is known to unshackle his patients, which was the norm for mental asylums, and choose to interact with them as normal human beings.
The 19th century saw the development of various aspects of human services. To begin with, in the US mental conditions were still not recognized as treatable conditions by many people. The mentally ill were taken to prisons where they were treated harshly. There was a need to change this mentality. Dorothea Dix, a French-born woman, helped change this mentality.
During her work, Dix campaigned endlessly for the fair treatment of mentally-ill patients. This was made possible through the extensive documentation of the harsh treatment that people living in asylums and poorhouses were subjected to. This work went on to influence the establishment of over 30 mental health institutions around the US.
In the mid 18th century, charitable organizations began to rise. More so, the Charity Organization Society (COS), became one of the first organizations that made home visits to the poor. Using visitors, the COS provided charity to the poor through home visits thus giving birth to caseworkers.
To boost this, in 1889, there was the development of the first settlement house. The house, known as the Hull House, was co-founded by Addams Jane and Gates Ellen. The Hull House provided social services to many people especially incoming immigrants from Europe. The house proceeded to cover a vast region offering various social services.
The 20th century has seen lots of modern developments. To begin with, many poor houses and asylums were shut down. The people in asylums and poor houses were transferred to state institutions which became the main providers for care for mentally-ill people. In 1912, there was the establishment and development of the Children’s Bureau which was aimed at investigating and dealing with the matter of child welfare.
By 1929, there were about 30,000 orphans living in the streets of New York, USA. To curb this, the last orphan train was started. This was a movement that aimed at moving the orphans to aid institutions, in and out of the US. The aid institutions included homes of civilians. Shortly after 1929, the last orphan train, there was the development of the social security act. In 1935, under President Roosevelt, the Social Security Act was set up.
This is a scheme that helps people to save for their retirement. To boost this act, the Federal Security Agency was set up. This agency has the target of housing health, education, and other welfare programs in the US. This enabled easier coordination of various services.
In 1965, the Medicare Act was established. This act was developed from the social security act and is a health insurance policy for the elderly. Through Medicare, some of the stresses of families that resulted from taking care of the elderly were absorbed. In 1997, a similar child insurance policy named CHIP was developed.
The turn of the century saw the largest amount of social workers offering mental and family health services. Some of the most notable events that contributed to this situation are the September 11th terrorist bomb attacks and severe hurricanes. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused devastating damage to the US and was followed three years later by the 2008 economic recession.
In the same year, 2008, the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act was put into law to offer various services such as physical health guidance and offering affordable mental health services. More recently, the Affordable Care Act in 2011 was passed under President Obama which required all people to get health insurance or pay for it through taxes. The Affordable Care Act also introduced subsidies that are paid for by charging high-income members of the society and healthcare providers.
Kunze, L. N. (1971). The Origins of Modern Social Legislation: The Henrician Poor Law of 1536. The North American Conference on British Studies; 3(1):9-20
Zins, C. (2001) “Defining Human Services,” The Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare: Vol. 28: Iss. 1, Article 2.Available at:https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/jssw/vol28/iss1/2