Community Colleges and Preparation of the Human Service Workforce

  • AuthorLazarina Topuzova, Doctoral Candidate, University of Utah
  • TitleCommunity Colleges and the Preparation of the U.S. Human Services Workforce
  • Release Date12/01/2006
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3. Program Accreditation and Professional Organizations

Specialized professional accreditation is done through the Council for Standards in Human Service Education (CSHSE), which was established in 1979. CSHSE is seeking recognition from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), but is not currently recognized.

The Council for Standards in Human Service Education (CSHSE) began as a national, voluntary organization of human services educational institutions. In its first years, the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) funded a project (1980-83) aimed at supporting the development and maintenance of human services standards, faculty training, and creating national awareness of human services education (Brown, 1990). At present, CSHSE has taken the lead to provide specific guidelines for human services education programs. The first accreditation standards were created in the early 1980s, revised in 1989, and most recently in 2005.

The CSHSE accreditation standards have two sections and address both program characteristics and curriculum. The standards addressing program characteristics focus on the philosophy of human services, specific program objectives and their evaluation, procedures affecting students, the credentials of faculty, program support and administration, and transferability of credits and transition between degree levels. Further, there is a heavy emphasis on skills which should be taught, values, and the importance of a supervised field experience. The standards distinguish three levels of education: technical/ non-degree granting, associate degree, and advanced degree. Each standard contains specifications that outline the minimal level of compliance at each of the three levels (Council for Standards in Human Service Education, 2005). Table 1 below offers a detailed listing of the content of each standard.

The CSHSE website contains information on institutional members who support its work (currently 77 active members), the 33 programs that are currently accredited, and the 15 programs that have been accredited in the past. Annual membership in the organization is set at $300, and is a prerequisite to accreditation. Many members however, never seek accreditation but may actively support the CSHSE mission. Accreditation is granted for five years and the accreditation fee is $350.

As a condition of accreditation, institutions are required to maintain current membership in CSHSE (Council for Standards in Human Service Education, 2005b).

CSHSE is the standard setting and approval body, and its members are programs and institutions. Human services educators, professionals and providers, as well as students are all eligible to join the National Organization for Human Services (NOHS), an organization founded in 1975 and originally called the National Organization for Human Service Educators. The recent change in name of the organization was to encourage more students and human services workers to join the organization and have a stronger professional identification (John Heapes, personal communication, June 19, 2006). Since its founding, NOHS has held annual conferences and regularly publishes a journal (first issue was in 1979, then annually in the fall; in 1986 the journal was renamed Human Service Education). Currently NOHS supports several regional organizations which offer separate annual conferences to address the distinct needs within each region (National Organization for Human Services, n.d.- c).

CSHSE and NOHS work in close cooperation as they were initiated by the same key organization (SREB) and individuals (McPheeters) and because both have the goal to promote and further the human services field. Detailed history of the development of the professional organizations is provided in The History of the Human Services Movement (Fullterton & Osher, 1990). Appendix D contains most current contact information for both CSHSE Board of Directors and the NOHS general and regional bodies.

Document Date: December 1, 2006
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