Why the Human Services Value Curve?
We live in homes, organizations and communities with many moving parts, like a map with many roads and signs. It 's not so easy to keep track of where we want to go and how we want to get there. The Value Curve gives us a "true north compass" for using our various maps, ensuring we don 't lose sight of the ultimate destination: sustained well-being of children and youth, healthier families and communities, opportunities for employment and economic independence, and fairness between all the places we live.
The Value Curve is like a lens — a way of looking at what we do from the point of view of our consumers. By using it, we're more likely to realize the potential of the people we serve and the systems we use to do so.
It's not "one more thing" for us to deal with on top of our pile of to dos, but a way of looking at our efforts so that we reinforce our strengths and attend to things that we didn't see before we looked through this lens.
Think of the model as a "graduated lens" that describes how health and human services are provided to consumers at four progressive levels of value, each building off of the previous levels.
How We Move Up the Value Curve
At the regulative level, the key word is "integrity." Consumers receive a product or service that is timely, accurate, cost-effective and easy to understand. And what we deliver is also "within the rules."
At the collaborative level, the key word is "service." Consumers have an easier time navigating services when they "walk through a single door" and have access to a more complete array of products and services that are available "on the shelf." We collaborate across programs and even jurisdictions to make this happen for them.
At the integrative level, the key term is "root causes." At this level, products and services are designed and customized with our consumers 'input so that we address their true needs and enable them to make positive changes to their lives. This is all geared towards meaningful connections with people "upstream" to prevent problems from occurring "downstream" — rather than trying to fix them after the fact, or rather than "treating the symptoms" while people stay in place.
At the generative level, the key term is "bigger than the family." At this level, root cause analysis is done at a "population-wide level," resulting in prevention strategies and other forms of support that are broader than what an individual or family would receive directly and advance the well-being of the entire community.
An Example that Illustrates How the Value Curve Works
A person walks into a drug store and asks for cough medicine and gets it. The product works as expected and is the same regardless of which drug store it's purchased from — Integrity.
The same person walks in and also needs an ankle wrap, and gets that too, even though cough medicine and ankle wraps are produced in very different ways from very different places — Service.
The same person is now asked by the pharmacist, "Why do you have a cold and a bad ankle?" The discussion unearths a cold house and too much drinking, brought on by a recent job loss. This deeper understanding eventually leads to a treatment program, interim housing support, and workforce reentry support, so this person can get back to their strengths and thrive again — Root Causes.
The pharmacist and others look at data for all their consumers and see alcohol abuse and unemployment spiking in a specific neighborhood, one with many strengths clouded by some current struggles. They bring prevention-oriented counseling as well as proactive employment counseling services to that place. Longer-term, the community attracts a new employer with skill requirements fitting their high-potential labor pool, and this in turns brings in a farmer's market right next to the drug store — Bigger than the Family.
How Might this Look Within My Organization?
In thinking about the impact of the work we do, it might be helpful to start by looking at one role in particular – for example, imagine that you are a child welfare supervisor. When you think about the skills and competencies you need – what you need to be able to do, and what difference it makes, you might say...
For yourself, as a professional, you need to be able to effectively:
- Hold supervisory case reviews once a month (per agency policy)
- Assign new cases to staff within 24 hours of receipt
- Know the laws and policies that direct my work
- Be able to work a 40-hour work week
For your staff, you need to be able to guide them in:
- Meeting families where they are
- Family engagement
- Building trust and relationships
- Development of unit processes with staff instead of for staff
- Gaining a deep understanding of the needs of the whole family
- Looking underneath a presenting problem for deeper understanding — for example:
- Is it really a substance abuse concern or is it a MH concern being masked by substance abuse?
- Is the child just acting out or acting out because of a newly strained relationship?
For the wider community, you need to be able to:
- Build a whole-family, whole-community approach
- Involving leadership from numerous agencies that can "build" one neighborhood
- Moving toward becoming a community where families enable and support other families prior to system involvement
Please see our Resources page for more information about the Human Services Value Curve.