Essay: Human Services, Chaim Zins Does an Adequate

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¶ … Human Services, Chaim Zins does an adequate job of describing the field of human services. Zins begins by acknowledging that human services is a constantly evolving field, so that the omission of any parts of the field that any individual, including me, thinks are important does not really hinder his description of the field. However, one area that I believe is missing in Zins article is the provision of human services to people in penal settings such as jails and prisons. In the United States as well as in many other Western nations, a significant segment of the population, particularly financially disadvantaged minority males, spend some part of their lives in penal institutions. These institutions are about punishment, with rehabilitation being a secondary concern, which results in many criminals becoming recidivists. The impact on the community is significant as criminality impacts victims, offenders, and their families. It is also cyclical. I believe that any comprehensive and evolving definition of human services will have to focus on incarcerated populations.

I think that the purpose and value of a definition of human services is to help social workers and related professionals understand the types of services that they might be asked to provide, as well as to provide a starting point for the creative application of those types of services in new areas.

Week Two

I agree with Fine taking a dualistic approach to the topic of care, which focuses not only on the positive impacts of care but also on the negative, paternalistic ideas that necessarily follow from the designation of any portion of the population as a subpopulation in need of care. I do not feel that Tronto's generalized and abstract approach to the concept of care is helpful for a social services or human services approach, because a disposition of wanting to help others is useless unless that care is put into action. Moreover, if a person is providing care for another person, then the disposition of the caregiver, in many instances, is not outcome-determinative. Therefore, that Tronto seeks to combine the two components of care, disposition and action, is probably the greatest problem in Tronto's definition of care. I think that the four phases of care are not necessarily true. I do not think a person has to care about another to be a care-giver. For example, childcare providers may be sufficiently adequate at their jobs without having a personal interest in the child or even a generalized interest in childcare, but instead a self-interest in receiving a paycheck. They may develop a caring relationship towards individuals, but the emotional interest in another does not have to precede the caregiving. I agree that care is unequally distributed with marginalized groups receiving more care, but not necessarily better care, because the designation of care may be linked to attitudes that the caregiver knows better than the recipient.

Week Three

I believe that the purpose of Clare Ungerson's introduction to her book is to make the connection between policy decisions and personal lives. She points out that, in her own life, she grew up in a household where her mother was a caregiver to an adult relative and that she expects to be a caregiver herself, one day. She then links this to the gendered expectations that surround caregiving, focusing, not only on how women feel as caregivers and how the expectation that they will provide care impacts their lives, but also how gender dynamics impact male caregivers. Of course, Ungerson's discussion of elder care policies and how they impact personal lives raise questions for people. To me, the primary question is why Ungerson appeared to approach the issue of elder care separately from the issue of childcare, though the demands of childcare and elder care are frequently the same. As she mentioned, gendered expectations impact all issues, including policy issues, and she seems to fall into the policy notion of assuming women will be primarily responsible for childcare. I thought it was interesting that she approached the gendered approach to caregiving as not only placing an unfair burden on female caregivers, but also depriving men of a central role in the families.

Week Four

The purpose of Litwak's chapter is to discuss the role of informal groups in the everyday business of running society. These informal groups are groups that are bound together not by economic factors or business concerns, but my mutual relationships and can include families and neighborhoods. Litwak makes the point that the assumption that modern society is impersonal and no longer depends on smaller subpopulations within the larger population is erroneous. Instead, Litwak makes the point that modern society could not function in an efficient manner without the cooperation of these smaller subgroups. The assumption in the social sciences has been that there is a tension between choosing higher standards of living and being altruistic and caring. However, the work of informal groups in society suggests that this assumption is unwarranted. Instead, "the nature of modern society requires primary groups is one is to have well-functioning formal organizations" (Litwak, 1985). However, because the formal organizations often fail to recognize these informal groups and, in many cases, may appear to be hostile to them, it can be difficult to maintain both formal and informal groups. One example that I thought of when reading about the tension between formal and informal groups was the tension between families and child protective services. Without families reporting abuse by other family members, child protective services would have a difficult time finding abuse in homes. However, when child protective services intervenes in abusive scenarios, these informal family groups are often threatened because they have different goals.

Week Five

Mason and Noble-Spruell focus on child welfare policies in New South Wales as a way of describing how social factors such as class, race, gender, and generation have impacted child welfare policies throughout Australia (1993). They discuss the idea that there is an inherent tension in the child welfare system between protecting children and respecting the autonomy of parents from different social groups to determine the best and most appropriate standards of care for their children. The chapter makes me think about the idea that prevailing social norms, which are determined by the dominant members of society, are what determine whether the treatment of a child is appropriate or inappropriate. I am not certain whether I agree that cultural differences should result in different standards of care for children. I feel like children should be afforded the same opportunities and care regardless of their cultural background. However, I also acknowledge that how one frames the issues of care impacts decision-making about care. For example, the taking of mixed-race children from their parents was theoretically done in order to provide them with the greater range of life opportunities that white children experienced in contrast to black children. However, at the same time, these children were deprived of the basic opportunity to be raised by their parents. Which of these opportunities is more critical in the development of a child? Furthermore, the choices are not always so clear-cut, but societal bias is still likely to result in policies that marginalize the concerns of minority parents.

Week Six

The purpose of this reading it to describe the movement away from institutionalized care and to community-based care. This deinstitutionalization does not refer only to people being treated in facilities, but also to the concept of people being treated by facilities. As a result, it describes a shift in the locus of power in caregiving situations, away from centralized governmental sources of power to more local sources of power. This makes sense, as more localized sources of power should be more in-tune with the needs of communities and the individuals within those communities. Furthermore, smaller units… [END OF PREVIEW]

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