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What Are Human Services Agencies…?


As we saw for human services themselves, there is not unanimity about exactly what a human services agency is. There is consensus about the basics such as its being an organization providing human services for an identified group of people and about its providing those services at no cost or at least an affordable cost to the recipients. “Most human services agencies are entirely or partially funded through grants from local, state, or federal government. Many others are private nonprofit groups often sponsored by religious denominations that raise money from fees, public appeals, and from philanthropic foundations. A smaller but fast growing type of agency is the private profit making one.” (Mandell & Schram, 2003, page 11) Our focus here is on the first two but not the third. We are interested in government or nonprofit funded human services agencies. The agency services may be provided by paid staff or volunteers, may include material items such as food and clothing, may include professional services such as medical or legal, may include resources such as housing or transportation, and may range from help with completing tax forms to child care, from a furniture bank to after school tutoring, from counseling to summer recreation. If the organization provides accessible services, resources, and opportunities to people who would otherwise not have access to them, it qualifies in the present context as a human services agency. A human services agency enables the delivery of human services, regardless of its governmental or non-governmental status, the specific services being provided not withstanding. The same holds for its particular affiliation or source of support. …