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Using Technology for Human Services Delivery

Innovations give human services professionals a broader reach.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when most in-person services were suspended, the use of tele-human services grew and forged new connections between practitioners and clients. Moving into the post-pandemic world, human services practitioners are using and building on these technology-powered connections.

“The demand for greater access to services in more timely opportunities is growing,” says Dr. Kristin Faix Wilkinson, academic program director for the master’s and doctoral online degree programs at Walden University. “The recent COVID-19 pandemic is an excellent example of how tele-human services can be used. Service users—those who engage in and use human services—can avoid interruptions in services, and meeting needs can be assured.”

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Her colleague, Dr. Barbara Benoliel, academic coordinator in Walden’s human services PhD program, adds: “Using tele-human services allows human services professional practitioners to make the most of their time in accessing resources or connecting with service users, spending more time with problem-solving and less time in transit commuting from site to site. This reallocated time is more available for working together with the service users, shortening the time to find and access the appropriate solution.”

As the demand for tele-human services, telehealth, and tele-mental health evolves and grows, so does the technological capability to engage in services. Text messaging, video meetings, and teleconferencing are among the technologies being used today.

“Telecommunications create a new relationship between human services professional practitioners and service providers and service users,” Dr. Wilkinson says. “Human services practitioners must be competent in technology to manage the multiple mediums that can be used to interact with individuals, families, and organizations effectively.”

If you want to extend your reach as a human services professional, consider the following opportunities for tele-human services delivery, which Drs. Benoliel and Wilkinson have shared:1,2

  • Access: Telehealth can provide easy access for people who are unable to access services due to remote locations, lack of transportation, or lack of social and family support. 
  • Disability support: Technology can facilitate virtual home meetings, service meetings, coordination of needed services, contact with supporting agencies (psychologists, medical doctors, and counselors), and coaching. 
  • Court services: Videoconferencing is being used for probation check-ins, coaching, coordination between courts and supporting organizations, mediation, peer support, and referrals. 
  • Child and family services: Human services professionals use videoconferencing for home visits; responding to crisis needs, including emergency housing or coordinating mental health services; and case management services. 
  • Recovery: Tele-human service opportunities include peer and group support meetings, intake assessments, identifying recovery needs, relapse prevention via psychoeducational webinars, live chats, group meetings, and referrals.  
  • Child welfare: Opportunities include virtual home visits; check-ins; monitoring the welfare of foster children; checking for food security, housing standard, and child supervision; and support and monitoring for families experiencing risk of abuse, neglect, or domestic violence. 
  • Coping skills: Using tele-human services to provide psychosocial education on developing health-coping skills for adolescents and young adults offers more privacy and less perceived stigma for those seeking guidance.
  • Advocacy: Opportunities include communicating with decision-makers to advocate for service users’ needs and using predictive data analytics to help inform future human services needs of organizations. Using existing social media platforms or web pages, human services professionals can help educate and advocate for

Update Your Skills With an MS in Human Services

“With new challenges facing communities each day, human services professionals are needed now more than ever to help individuals and families find durable solutions to life challenges,” Dr. Wilkinson says.

To help practitioners prepare to meet the growing demand for human services professionals,3 Walden offers an online MS in Human Services degree program with a General Program and eight specializations that let you tailor your studies to your career interests. Choices include Community and Social Services, Human Services Nonprofit Administration, and Disaster, Crisis, and Intervention.

In Walden’s online MS in Human Services degree program, you can gain the in-demand skills you need to facilitate social services in multiple settings around the world. Technology plays a key role for students in Walden’s human services degree programs, too. Master’s candidates engage in an interactive learning community that features simulations and animated case studies.

If you’ve already earned a master’s degree and are ready to take your human services career to the highest levels, Walden offers an online Doctor of Human Services degree program. The practitioner-focused curriculum in this doctorate in human services degree program is designed to help you effect positive social change through direct practice, advocacy, or policy.

With a commitment to social change and a desire to improve the lives of others, enrolling in Walden’s online human services master’s degree program can help you reach your goals and find career satisfaction.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an MS in Human Services online degree program with multiple specializations. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient online format that fits your busy life.

1Source: Bryant, L., Garnham, B., & Tedmanson, D. (2018). Tele-social work and mental health in rural and remote communities in Australia. International Social Work, 61(1), pp. 143-155 https://doi.org/10.1177/0020872815606794
2Source: Coyle, S. (2020). The continued growth of telemental health. Social Work Today, 18(2), p.18. www.socialworktoday.com/archive/MA18p18.shtml
3Source: www.bls.gov/ooh/management/social-and-community-service-managers.htm

Note on licensure: The MS in Human Services program, including its specializations, is not designed to lead to professional licensure, including licensure as a professional therapist, counselor, social worker, or psychologist.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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