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Dr. Bahira Sherif Trask, Professor and Chair, Human Development and Family Sciences
Current predictions estimate that 38% of US jobs may be lost to automation in the next 15 years. However, one occupational area that will not be affected in the same manner is the human services profession.
In fact, this is a domain that is projected to grow at a much faster pace than other occupations. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the average employment rate of individuals working in social service oriented jobs will outpace the average of all other occupations for the next ten years. As the baby-boomers age, individuals with disabilities reach adulthood, and substance abuse issues reach epic proportions, there is an increasing need in what are often termed “the caring professions.” However, these types of jobs are not limited to just working with individuals at risk. Careers in the human services field are plentiful and include child care professionals, child advocates, case managers, life skills counselors, drug abuse counselors, mental health aides, crisis intervention counselors, social policy advisors, and many more.
In the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences, located in the College of Education and Human Development, we are preparing students for these professions by combining a traditional human services perspective with a new, fresh focus on social entrepreneurship.
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College of Education and Human Development Faculty Scholar, Dr. Valerie Earnshaw, is joined by a group of graduate and undergraduate research assistants who support the work of her lab through research assistantships and independent studies.
The Department of Human Development and Family Sciences (HDFS) provides undergraduate and graduate students with the theoretical and practical skills to meet the social needs and challenges facing individuals and families in the 21st century. A hallmark of the program is that students are given a strong foundation in child, family, and adult development. They are also required to master an extensive knowledge base that focuses on the structure and function of human services in the community, the delivery of direct services to children and families, and an overview of the research and evaluation process. Students apply interdisciplinary knowledge about individuals and families to real life situations in early intervention, school, and community settings.
Early childhood education faculty members (L to R: Lynn Worden, Myae Han, Rena Hallam, Jason Hustedt, Cynthia Paris, Martha Buell, and Bahira Trask).
The Department seeks to create a model of teaching, learning, scholarship, and service that is consistent with the needs of a rapidly changing global environment. Faculty collaborate both in and outside the classroom with students on a wide spectrum of issues that includes diverse families, early childhood, disabilities, adolescent and adult development, and policy issues. These collaborations occur on multiple levels: in the Department, throughout the College and the University, the State of Delaware, the Mid-Atlantic region and, at times, even in the national and international communities. Faculty and students share a strong commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and service to the community.
A growing focus in HDFS is on the role of social entrepreneurship. As private investment in preventative social interventions grows, we will see employment opportunities in this sector expand. In order to prepare students for these new opportunities, we are re-focusing our curriculum in collaboration with the Horn Entrepreneurship Program, on the relationship between the private and the public sectors. There is growing recognition that this traditional divide needs to be dismantled and that we need to work together in order to provide much needed services to society. Students who come into our majors are usually motivated by social goals rather than wealth accumulation. They leave our program understanding that their mission is to be change agents, and that it is through their creative endeavors that critical social needs will be addressed. By educating our students to address social issues in new innovative ways, our department is leading the way for learning and skills preparation for the 21st century.
Bahira Sherif Trask is Chair of the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences at the University of Delaware.