It’s no secret that issues such as poverty and homelessness affect people in communities of all types in all regions of the United States. Social programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) have a vital impact on raising both the standard of living and quality of life for millions of Americans. Other initiatives — those boosting childhood development or preventing violence, for example — aim to assist vulnerable populations.
Kentucky takes a direct approach to addressing social problems, with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) providing a hub for most Kentucky social services and family care programs. It is one of the largest cabinets in the state government, employing nearly 8,000 social workers and other professionals. This makes it a significant employer of human services professionals in Kentucky.
CHFS Programs and Initiatives
Including larger-scale initiatives like Medicaid and public health as well as demographic-focused programs, CHFS addresses the needs of Kentucky’s citizens through state- and federal-funded operations. It has nine agencies with varying functions.
- Aging and Independent Living: The Department for Aging and Independent Living “oversees administration of statewide programs and services on behalf of Kentucky’s elders and individuals with disabilities.” It works with community programs on factors that negatively impact the quality of life for elderly individuals.
- Children with Special Health Care Needs: This agency focuses on issues related to children with various health care needs, as well as their families. It serves as a community-based support system that delivers advocacy, education and services.
- Community Based Services: The Department for Community Based Services operates through a network of nine service regions, with offices in each of Kentucky’s 120 counties. It delivers services such as child care options and domestic violence prevention. This is accomplished through coordination with local partners.
- Family Resource Centers and Volunteer Services: This department provides support and assistance to local, school-based family resource centers. It enables these centers to “connect students and their families to needed services as a way to remove nonacademic barriers to learning and enhance student academic success.” Another function of this department is to administer national programs such as Kentucky’s AmeriCorps.
- Health Policy: The Office of Health Policy ensures “coordinated, timely, efficient and cost-effective health planning and policy research.” It applies best practices and strategies from the private sector and other states to benefit Kentuckians.
- • Income Support: The Department for Income Support provides both child support enforcement and disability determination. It helps parents and legal guardians ensure compliance to child support obligations and court orders. This department is also responsible for making Social Security disability determinations for the residents of Kentucky.
- Medicaid Services: The Department for Medicaid Services creates high-quality health care and related services that produce positive outcomes for eligible individuals. It supports preventive and disease management programs in response to the Affordable Care Act.
- Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities: This department partners with community programs to “prevent disability, build resilience in individuals and their communities, and facilitate recovery for people whose lives have been affected by mental illness, substance abuse or intellectual disability.”
- Public Health: Two main operations of the Department for Public Health include kyhealthnow and kynect. Kyhealthnow seeks to improve the health and wellness of children and families in Kentucky by setting goals for the state to reach by 2019, like reducing the number of cancer deaths or the smoking rate. Kynect is Kentucky’s health insurance exchange, where families, individuals and small businesses can find the right health care coverage.
The Role of Social Work and Human Services
CHFS relies on trained social work and human services professionals to carry out important community outreach and support. Students who complete an undergraduate social work degree from Brescia University are qualified for positions in government organizations, group homes, community centers, health care facilities and other human services environments. Working in any of these areas is a way for graduates to make a difference in communities across Kentucky, applying their social work education to their daily job responsibilities. Professionals in the field of social work and human services play an integral role in creating positive change for underserved people and communities in Kentucky.
Visit the Bachelor of Science in Social Work program page to learn more.