I recently wrote a column for the Redmond Reporter (http://www.redmond-reporter.com/opinion/five-things-you-may-not-know-about-human-services-guest-column/) which included some of the information I’ve posted here previously. This includes:
- What are Human Services?
- Why do you need Human Services in such a wealthy community?
- Why are all those homeless people coming here?
My column added answers to a couple other questions we receive regularly as well.
- Why is XYZ service (name your service) not available to me, now that I need it?, and
- Why don’t you get volunteers to fill the gaps?
The first question is really a “How are Human Services Funded” question. Although agencies vary (Together Center, for example, operates from lease income and contributions), 80% of funding for human services comes from government: cities, county, state and federal. If you track the King County or State budget processes (both of which have specific funding challenges) then you can see the impact on human services, although you may not be aware of the correlation. An agency you need may lose staff or an entire program as budgets are balanced away from human services.
In response to cutbacks, it is routinely suggested that volunteers and faith communities can carry the day. (When I shared my column with a colleague, it was this point that got her highly energized: “Include that!” she said. “We are always told that!”) While volunteers and church communities are critically important to our work currently, as are private donations and corporate grants (thank you!), trained staff and professional oversight are generally required to provide safe, equitable and effective services. We need sustainable and consistent funding to see results. The stakes are high. Your family’s human services, and mine, depend on it.