Social Service Careers - Providing Social Assistance for the General Welfare of the People through Jobs in Charity

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Social services jobs are part of the social services welfare program which is designed to take care of the less fortunate or the less capable in society. This class of the community has been part of the general structure of society for many years. The methods, however, of handling this group of people have changed dramatically in the last century. The ancient civilization believed that people with mental disorders were being punished by the gods.

Hence, the mentally ill persons were banished from society or punished. Classes with lower rank in society at that time included slaves, paupers, the mentally ill, and people with disabilities. Meanwhile, the Greeks and Romans treated the mentally ill in strange ways, like creating a holes in their skulls to remove the presumed disease or bad elements. Likewise, the rising belief in witchcraft during the twelfth to eighteenth centuries put the general population back in the position of regarding mental illness as a possession by demons and even a curse by gods. There were no existing charity jobs to serve them. Hence, physical deformities and handicaps left them and brought them a life of begging and vagrancy. Hospitals for the socially outcast were crude and treatment was often cruel. Although there were hospitals and facilities through the centuries where treatment was humane, the majority were inhumane in their handling of patients and prisoners.

For the poor or financially unstable people whose families were not available or capable of providing assistance, there was little charity job made in the way of public aid. The monasteries and churches provided alms. Almoners, distributors of alms to the poor, were common by the thirteenth century. Sponsored by the churches and the royal courts, alms were charitable donations of money, food, and clothing to the needy. Poor laws were established in England to handle the needs of the poor, aged, and ill. Established in 1597, the poor laws provided jobs in charity, like the development of parish workhouses for paupers, and care services for the ill. Foundling homes are believed to have existed for the housing of orphans by 1552. Run by families or private institutions, they served to house orphaned and abandoned children. Children were apprenticed to jobs when they were old enough to work - seven, eight, or nine years old. They were also given to the lowest bidder for service in the home, and the bidder was paid by the local government for housing the child. Conditions for the poor were extremely difficult. Some early efforts to remedy this and assist the poor included the Speenhamland system of financial assistance. Enacted in 1795 in England, the system provided wage enhancement to workers whose wages were determined to be below minimum living standards. Although intended to bolster every worker to a minimum income level, the Speenhamland system was abused. Employers, knowing that the government would provide the extra wage, would lower wages of their employees. They could also charge more for rents because the government would provide the money for the increases. Such deception made life harder for the underprivileged.

The public support for government relief programs and other charities jobs were rapidly turning against the poor in England. In 1834, sweeping reforms to the poor laws were made. The reforms used the Victorian work ethic to decrease tolerance of and assistance to the poor. Armed with the belief that poverty was a moral failing, the laws decreed that no aid would be provided to those living in their own homes. The only social service job and assistance was to be issued through the workhouses. This system was meant to make the receiving of public aid as punitive and degrading as possible, in order to combat laziness, according to the philosophy of the day. Toward the end of the 1800s, the initial changes in social welfare philosophy began to take hold. The Charity Organization Society in the United States, and similar charitable organizations in Europe, took up fundraising jobs and donations to assist the needy that were determined by the societies who deserved help. By labeling categories of people as ''deserving needy'', and ''undeserving'', the charities were able to circumvent the stigma attached to public assistance and philanthropy jobs. Help for the aged, the physically ill, and the mentally ill was the first to be established. Likewise, there were actually two basic elements of social services which were developing in the 1880s. The first, welfare services, provided assistance to the poor, ill, and emotionally disturbed. While, social services jobs provided training, education, health care assistance, and other counseling services. Indeed, social services jobs and welfare programs have provided assistance to the general welfare and benefits of the people.
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