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Learning Center Experience
By Lorena Lashway, School of Social and Behavioral Sciences
As societies become more organized, we
develop a complex system of social structures. Incorporating help to the needy
into the social structure ensures that a community will remain stable by
solidifying the foundation of community and mitigating the impact of social
problems (Kuklinski, Briney, Hawkins, &
Catalano, 2012). Communities that fail to meet the needs of the most
vulnerable put themselves at risk of festering social problems that erode the
social structure. In my work as clinical adviser of the mental health court, I
see firsthand the positive impact of meeting the needs of the most vulnerable
people in our community. When people are homeless, hungry, and hopeless, lack
of insight and poor judgment leads to decisions that may victimize the innocent
and ultimately erode the foundation of a health community. Formal help to the
needy through the delivery of human services that are linked with the legal
system weaves a thread of interdependence into the webbing of our community’s
foundation that ensures the health of our thriving community.
The nature and scope of the field of human services is traditionally varied due to its grassroots foundation. In recent decades, an
attempt has been made to focus and streamline the base of knowledge in the
field into a more usable and more standardized form (Gibbs, 2001). The age-old
question of “nature versus nurture” comes to the forefront when we consider the
overreaching goal of helping, in lieu of scientific research. The benefits of
supporting human services with objective data include increased professional credibility that gleans
cooperation from other professional fields. Specialty courts became popular
nationwide in the early 2000s and have demonstrated their positive impact on
communities through both quantitative and qualitative data.
community advocacy has a positive effect on changes in social policy and
programming. In order for this positive change to occur, the researchers must
be aware of current policy and its effect on social problems. In turn, policy
makers must use completed research that intelligently considers ways to define
social needs and effective intervention. Both research and policy are a
critical part of influencing positive social change (Howe, 2009). Linking the legal system to the delivery of
services to people who find themselves homeless, unemployed, involved in the
legal system, and often suffering from mental illness is an effective
stabilizing factor in our local community. Homeostasis is attained as organizational and social
structures communicate to achieve equilibrium.
The ecological model is a strong
foundation for human services and, specifically, human behavior in the social
environment (Cox, 1992). The people in the person’s immediate surroundings have
an impact on his or her development, but so do neighborhoods, the languages
spoken, the political context, and institutional systems (schools, hospitals,
religious institutions, etc.) (Howe, 2009). As we promote our effectiveness and
streamline the communication of our knowledge base, we find that proving
outcomes in the field feeds action research. Well-grounded theory helps us know
what to look for in our observations, helps us to predict outcomes, and
suggests helpful interventions that will bring positive change.
The overall goal or vision of human
services is to enhance human well-being with special focus on the vulnerable
and oppressed (NASW, 2011). We work toward this goal by promoting the well-being
of the entire society by building healthy communities. The role of human services
in these interactions is to develop better adaptations for the person or group,
and better environments for all. Linking our services to other formal social
structures, such as the legal system, the education system, and health systems,
combines resources to create a more efficient macro-system impact. Effectively
linking our field to other professional fields weaves a thread of
interdependence into the grid of our community’s foundation that ensures the
health of our thriving community.
Brian. (2006). Applying Research to Social Work. Retrieved from
C. (1992). Expanding Social Work’s Role in Home Care: An Ecological
Perspective. Social Work, 37(2), 179–183. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
A. (2001). The Changing Nature and Context of Social Work Research. British
Journal of Social Work, 31(5), 687. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
David. (2009). A Brief Introduction to Social Work Theory. New York. Palgrave Macmillan.
Kuklinski, M. R., Briney, J. S., Hawkins, J. D., &
Catalano, R. F. (2012). Cost-benefit Analysis of Communities That Care Outcomes
at Eighth Grade. Prevention
Science, 13(2), 150–61.
Code of Ethics. Retrieved from http://www.puc.edu/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/30097/NASW-Code-of-Ethics.pdf.
Marie O. (1996). Community Building: Building Community Practice. Social Work, 41(5), 481. Retrieved
March 7, 2011, from ProQuest Medical Library. (Document ID: 10282707).
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