IntroductionThe need for public human service agencies to integrate services is well established. A large number of human service agencies be aware of that in order to achieve positive results for vulnerable families and children, they must focus holistically on the customer. We know that a lot of customers come to the door of human services with a difficult set of needs that no one program service area can fulfill on its own.
Simultaneously, we also know that each program area has its own viewpoint, goals, service arrangement, and terminology that are challenging issues to overcome when integrating services. Funding streams and federal mandates contribute to the confront of integrating services by pulling a human service agency in diverse directions. As a result, "Ms. Jones" walks into a human service agency office a whole person and the system virtually breaks her and her family into pieces in order to serve her, consistent with the structure of most human service programs.
(Reitman, 2005)Despite and perhaps because of these challenges, we know human service agencies can no longer afford not to integrate services. The lives of children and families literally rely on the extent to which human service agencies integrate services for better performance.
Challenges of Service IntegrationAlthough service integration is well established in theory, making it an operational reality has remained elusive over the last 20 years, but not for lack of effort or creativity some agencies have made phenomenal progress toward service integration, despite complex and ever-changing political, economic, demographic, and technological conditions. One-stop shops have emerged, joint planning has been initiated, co-location of two or more service agency's staff has been implemented, standard initial screening tools and eligibility processes have been established, and the merging of data systems is ongoing in many jurisdictions. While there have been successful...