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 NAME=”ehsm_OLE_LINK86″>NAME=”ehsm_OLE_LINK84″>that raise
money from fees, public appeals, and from NAME=”ehsm_OLE_LINK90″>NAME=”ehsm_OLE_LINK87″>philanthropic foundations.
A smaller but fast growing type of agency is the private profit making one.”
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
NAME=”ehsm_OLE_LINK98″>NAME=”ehsm_OLE_LINK96″>recreation.
If the organization NAME=”ehsm_OLE_LINK100″>, 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.


On a small scale, human
services agencies are not needed. All we need to do is to find someone who
needs help and then do something helpful. We can help in our spare time and to
the extent we are able and think is appropriate. This is by far the most common
form human services take – people taking turns helping and being helped.


The first step toward a human
services agency’s development comes when someone sees the people helping people approach is inadequate and decides to do
something about it. More specifically, a concerned individual – or individuals
– notices there are people who are having difficulty with day-to-day
functioning. He further notices the observed difficulties have one or
more common or closely related elements. He believes some combination of
services and supports will help the people function better and lessen their
difficulties. If he can develop a strategy to offer those supports and
services, resources and opportunities to everyone in the group or identified
population who needs them, the day-to-day functioning of those who receive the
services will improve. He – the First Mover – then recruits others to
join in a shared effort to assure the services and supports are in place and
accessible by those needing them. If his recruitment activities are successful,
the result is a group – the Initiators
– committed to providing the services and supports.