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What resources and opportunities do potential clients have for coping with the needs, problems, and vulnerabilities in their lives?

There is auspices and authorization for the agency to help a specific client group with the issues and difficulties identified in the intervention focus. In order to determine the specific types of help the agency should provide, understanding the strengths and limitations of the potential clients is essential. What can they handle on their own and with what do they need help?

The automatic response might be each person is an individual and has his (or her) unique strengths and limitations, opportunities and deficits. This is unarguably true. At the same time, people in a group or community have many traits and characteristics, abilities and disabilities, resources and deficits in common. The people in the client profiles developed above similarly have shared issues and challenges, resources and opportunities. Among the common elements in their situations and circumstances, many of them struggle with the concerns and difficulties seen in the intervention focus.

Given this common experience for potential clients, we turn our attention to their opportunities and limitations with respect to the intervention focus. Most people neither need nor use human services agencies. They use family, friend, neighbor, community, and other personal resources to manage and cope with the needs, problems, and vulnerabilities in their lives. It is important to emphasize they do not take care of themselves or go it alone. They require help with their life difficulties. For them, though, the supports and resources are there for them. These people are adequately supported. They may experience the difficulties included in the intervention focus; but when they do, the help they need is either already there for them or personally accessible by them. They can and do get what they need.

Just as some people are adequately supported, others are inadequately supported. They require help with their life difficulties; but unlike those who are adequately supported, the supports and resources they need are not there for them. The adequacy of supports available to people range from inadequate to adequate, as illustrated in Figure 4.

There is an important, additional dimension as also illustrated in Figure 4. Coping difficulties experienced by people range from more serious to less serious. Seriousness is a measure of how bad it would be if the need were not met, the problem not resolved, the vulnerability not reduced. People’s difficulties can be understood as more serious with inadequate supports, more serious with adequate supports, less serious with inadequate supports, and less serious with adequate supports.

Figure 4 assists our understanding of the resources and opportunities potential clients have to cope with the difficulties identified in the intervention focus. First, human services agencies usually receive authorization – public or private – to help with more serious difficulties and issues in people’s lives. Second, this authorization is typically limited to situations where there are inadequate supports. If people can personally arrange for part – but not all – of the resources they need, the authorization may only include the portion of resources for which they cannot make adequate arrangements. Whether the Authorization is full or proportional, people are experiencing serious issues and are also experiencing significant difficulty coping with them.

Limiting our attention to the difficulties and issues in the intervention focus, Figure 4 shows us some people have adequate supports for coping with those serious issues and others do not. If we identify the resources and opportunities those with adequate supports use to cope, we understand what is missing for those who are not coping as successfully. An inability to cope reflects a deficit and not some trait or characteristic of the individual. The deficit is an absence or limited access to particular resources or opportunities available to others. Developing a human services agency is based on the premise making those resources and opportunities available to potential clients leads to their coping more successfully.

Return focus to the client profiles developed earlier. The potential clients represented in the profiles have limited access to needed resources and opportunities to cope successfully with the issues and difficulties in the intervention focus. We next determine what resources and opportunities people have who successfully cope with those issues and difficulties. The agency eco system makes those opportunities and resources sufficiently available to and accessible by agency clients to enable them to better cope with the issues and difficulties included in the intervention focus. Those opportunities and resources are available to and accessible by some people on a private, self-directed basis, but not to potential clients. The human services agency simply equalizes availability and access for everyone.

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