The term “Common Human Needs” has been with me since studying social work in grad school at the University of Chicago. The term serves as the title of a seminal book in the field by Charlotte Towle, a book that is a “compassionate explanation of human developmental need.” In the early to mid-20th century, financial assistance for citizens was regarded the same way that assisting illegal immigrants is today. But leaders such as Charlotte Towle and Jane Addams were pathfinders for those of us in the helping professions. Unfortunately, not all of those needing help were regarded as “deserving.”
Have you ever been stared at? When it happens to me, I wonder if something is out of place, like my hair or maybe something worse. But if you have a disability that’s obvious, or if you’re walking with someone who does, the stare may register more intensely, stirring deep emotions.
For adults with disabilities, services sometimes are the only thing separating them from homelessness. For others, the lack of services may mean an increase in behaviors or other symptoms such as depression. And for family members, it may mean staying at home or being the driver throughout the week to make sure a son or daughter or sibling can get to where they need to go.
In November 2013, the Massachusetts “Blueprint for Success” was released. The plan changed day and employment services for our constituents served by the Department of Developmental Services (DDS). The state moved away from sheltered work and segregated settings to more individualized employment and community-based day support for those who weren’t going to be able to work full-time independently or with intermittent assistance.