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Human Services: Part Skill. Part Science. Part Art.

Discover why citizen engagement is essential to human services convergence.


There is nothing like the passion of human services advocates. Many spend entire careers working tirelessly to get support and resources for their programs. It should be no surprise that many fear that integration will mean “less” not “more” for their cause. This is why it is so difficult to get to a collective voice on enterprise human services in a categorical advocacy world. There is “resisting” when there needs to be “rallying.”

Many human services leaders are discovering the hard way that making an intellectual case for change is not enough. Instead, leaders must harness the one thing that all advocates have in common—the consumer.

By understanding the consumer voice and developing a robust citizen engagement strategy, leaders can rally diverse programmatic interests and build the foundation for convergence.


Convergence is key to the future of human services. Not only is there a greater demand for more services with fewer resources, digital-savvy consumers expect a modern, efficient service experience.

Yet the categorical system is difficult to navigate, costly and redundant. What’s more, it is hard to measure outcomes over outputs to articulate a return on taxpayer investment. And when the only good news is bad news, the public can become disenchanted.

Convergence is the common sense alternative. In a convergent system, there are no boundaries. Individuals, families, health and human services professionals, and community organizations work in a streamlined and personalized way to address the social determinants of health. It is about collaborative and cost-effective service delivery models that challenge today’s ingrained system.

Simply put, convergence is the realization of the generative level on the Human Services Value Curve. This level generates outcomes with whole-family approaches that seed healthy communities.


Citizen engagement should be rooted in three key actions:

  1. Act with intention—and inclusion
    Leaders can engage advocates early and often in work groups focused on improving the enterprise. Agencies should populate workgroups with advocates, citizens and representatives of the business community as well.

  2. Communicate with everyone—often
    There must be an enterprise communications strategy around the vision and purpose of these efforts. This requires ongoing dialogue with—communicating “with” not “at”—executive leadership, legislators, stakeholders, advocacy groups, labor unions and citizens.

  3. Make the business case—with data
    Leaders must take an executive approach to the move to a convergent system. They must articulate and refine a solid business case backed by data and clear consumer perspectives. This starts with shared data strategies and outcomes measurement processes.