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A human services specialist helps people interact with an array of social and health services. Social services are typically provided by the government, nonprofit agencies, and charitable organizations. Eligible health services can include occupational health therapists, psychologists, speech therapists, dental hygienists, or optometrists.
There are four primary roles for a human services specialist: research the programs available, interview clients to determine the services they need, complete the paperwork to make these services available, and follow up with the client. A human services specialist is often contacted through referral from a social worker or community nurse. People who enjoy this type of work are naturally outgoing, are committed to helping others, and have excellent interpersonal skills.
An in-depth knowledge of the different programs, resources, and support services available is essential in this role. Each program has its own eligibility criteria and deadlines. It is the responsibility of the human services specialist to be up to date on these issues.
In order to determine what services the client requires, an interview process is required. The initial meeting can be completed either in the client's home or in another location. In addition, assessments from health professionals are used to evaluate the individual skills and options. Economic circumstances are reviewed and legal proceedings are often initiated by the human services worker, to help the client obtain any funds he or she is legally entitled to. This may include worker's compensation, child support, or pension benefits.
All of these programs require paperwork to be completed. Together with the client, the specialist assists in this process, following up, and keeping on top of all the information required. Once the client is able to access the necessary resources or programs, the specialist makes sure the progress reports are filed on time, so that this assistance can continue.
Following up with the client is an essential part of the process. Scheduled and unscheduled visits are conducted by the human services specialist to help keep the client on track. Many people develop a personal relationship with their clients and are able to celebrate their successes with them.
Recommended training to become a human services specialist includes a four-year post-secondary education program in social work, nursing, or a related field. Many employers also require at least three years of work experience in a social services agency. People who are most successful in this role have a wide range of life experiences, and are able to work with people who are facing significant challenges and help them get their lives back on track.