by Alana J. Mauger
For the first time since its introduction in the early 1970s, Montgomery County Community College’s Human Services program was awarded national accreditation from the Council for Standards in Human Services Education (CSHSE).
The accreditation enables Human Services students who graduate with Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degrees to sit for the Human Services Board Certified Practitioner (HS-BCP) exam.
“Prior to the accreditation, students would be required to complete additional work hours before being eligible to take the HS-BCP. Now they can take it with their associate’s degree,” explained Maureen Rose, assistant professor and Human Services program coordinator. “ Students attaining the credential stand out to future employers signifying they have met board requirements for national standards in the human service profession.”
The accreditation process started with a significant overhaul of the College’s Human Services curriculum, which took effect in 2011. Those modifications included introducing three areas of concentration – Addictions, Gerontology and Youth and Family Services, reducing the number of practicum hours to 280, and requiring students to complete portfolios that reflect their coursework prior to graduating.
According to Rose, the modified program also presents students with an increased focus on case management, critical thinking and computer literacy – skills that are necessary to compete in the job market and pass the accreditation exam
“Critical thinking is the most important skill, as the exam is based on case studies covering assessment, treatment planning, theory and administrative situations. Students might not have all the answers, but they must be able to think through the various scenarios,” she shared.
Rose also notes that the program’s modification and accreditation will make it easier for Human Services graduates to transfer to four-year institutions to continue their education. Most graduates of the program do transfer to higher educational institutions despite it being an A.A.S. career program. Currently, Chestnut Hill College, Gwynedd-Mercy College and Drexel University are the most popular transfer destinations.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook cites that community and social services occupations are expected to grow by 24 percent through 2020, with the fastest growing jobs occurring in the areas of mental health counselors/marriage and family therapists, rehabilitation counselors, and social and community service managers.
To learn more about the Human Services program, visit mc3.edu/academics.