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Learning Center Experience
By Julie Riley, Academic Chair, Human Services Programs, Kaplan University
often enter the field of human services because they want to help others. As a
matter of fact, human services is often called “the helping profession.” In
this work, there can be a variety of career options and paths a professional
Working in child and family welfare is no different. One can begin
their career journey in one direction and, before they know it, end up in a
totally different place, working with a totally different population, but still
helping and advocating for change.
and family agency work, the tasks are endless, but so are the rewards! Recently
I served on the Board of Directors for a local not-for-profit agency that was
charged with the goal of helping homeless families become independent and self-sufficient.
There were so many skills needed, areas to explore, and people to help. We
needed to hire part-time case managers, child-care assistants, grant writers,
and a variety of other people. In addition, the executive director was in
charge of overall fund development and managing a pool of volunteer staff. The
volunteer staff alone was made up of people interested in helping with the
families, people interested in fundraising, transportation drivers, ground and
housekeeping, and several other responsibilities.
time serving on the Board of Directors, we hired two different executive directors
and I will tell you that it was not an easy task. We were looking for someone
with an advanced degree (master’s degree) who demonstrated the ability to
supervise but to also understand the needs of the people. In addition, this
person needed to know how to raise and manage necessary funds and most
importantly this person needed to have a vision and the passion for moving the
organization forward. We interviewed social workers, counselors, candidates with
an MBA, but no one was a perfect fit for this executive director position. What
we really needed was a person with a master’s degree related to human services
who could handle the variety of responsibilities that needed to be completed
within this agency. As we found out, leadership positions in agencies serving
families and children were tough ones to fill.
master’s degree in human services with a specialization in child and family
welfare could help assist students in obtaining the vision that so many
agencies need in our changing society. Things are different for families than
they were 20 years ago so therefore the services we provide them must be
different as well. We need early intervention programs for children early in
life and our agencies must help to make sure this is happening. Families need
help dealing with issues surrounding divorce, trauma, and mental health issues.
In addition, families need help when they are dealing with an aging parent and
they still have to work! We need innovation, creativity, and vision. There are
so many opportunities to shine with a career in human services. Most people
feel good when they are helping others!
degree in human services with a specialization in child and family welfare could
help make a difference in the life of a graduate and in the lives of all who they
will serve. Contemporary times calls for creative solutions. Our families and
communities need more people to believe in the family unit and to support their
mission. Human services professionals specializing and understanding the
concerns of children and families can make a big difference for society!
Riley is an academic chair at Kaplan University. The views expressed in this
article are solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Kaplan
University. Kaplan University cannot guarantee employment or career
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