Human Services, a helping profession degree now offered at BC Human Services

Michelle Castano


Broward College created a 60 credit Human Services Associate of Science degree. According to BC, this degree is designed for people seeking employment or advancements in human services.

 “Our ultimate goal is to get you an associate degree, get you a job in the field, and we are hoping to one day, grow this into a Bachelor’s degree program,” said Dr. Robert Gallagher, Sociology and Introduction to Human Services professor.
  Along with the guidance and help of Dr. Sonia Nieves, who is the Associate Dean of Behavioral Sciences, Dr. Robert Gallagher helped design a program that not only has a theoretical foundation but also a practical application. 

“Human services is a helping professions field; In fact, if you get a degree in human services whether it’s an Associates, Bachelor’s, Masters or PhD in human services, you typically work in social service agencies where they are going to help out clients who are elderly who need assistance finding a facility to live in, or helping clients apply for public assistance, or assisting with housing, hunger, substance abuse and child abuse and neglect issues,” said Gallagher.  

A human services worker assists clients and directs them toward services in which they may not know how to assess help, guidance, and mentorship. 
 The Human Services program offers three tracks. They include family violence (child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, partner violence), gerontology (senior population) and substance abuse. 

“For the local community, we thought these would be the three best tracks we could offer and they also were in the state wide system. We geared it toward county issues in order to make this program viable where students can learn something but also get a job immediately with your two-year degree,” said Gallagher. 

Toward the end of the program, students are required to complete two internships. BC will help students with internship placement, whether it be working with domestic violence, substance abuse agencies or even BSO.
 To ensure that there was an actual need for human services within the job market, Gallagher and his associates met with the Broward County Service Council and asked what the county needed. The Service Council said they were expecting workers to know about ethics to case management and documentation from day one. 

The current growth market within the human services field in Broward County was up at about 20 percent. 

“We are hoping that not only students will get a good education, however, we talk about what goes on in the real world. We provide them with a theoretical foundation, real world experience, and then also make sure students get internships and essentially help them with job placement,” said Gallagher. 
 Currently, BC is offering an Introduction to Human Services course at South Campus. Students will learn about the basis of the program and about the theoretical and practical applications that occur within the field. 

Having worked in the human services field for 15 years, Dr. Gallagher is able to provide real life examples and case studies within this course. 

My central focus is to get students to understand what human services is and get them practical application —for example, for an upcoming project, I want to give them an actual family that has issues and students are actually going to do a needs assessment, a case plan with the family, so students will need to figure out what steps to take in order to help the client. (What services work, what services don’t work).. It would give them a feel to what it is to work in the environment; so when my students are on the first day of the job, they will know how to do it and how to perform,” he said.
 The Human Services program is intensely applied and hands on (great for a tactical learner). Through guidance and the required internships, students will most likely be guaranteed a job. 

BC student, Isabella Lopez decided that the Human Services program was the path for her. 

“After high school, I didn’t necessarily know what I wanted to do. I began working at a church with children and realized that I wanted to work with juveniles. Through research, I found the Human Services program and decided that this was the path for me,” she said. 

Lopez is currently taking the Introduction to Human Services class with Gallagher and is certain that she wants to work in the field, particularly counseling juveniles.
 According to Nieves, the Human Services Program has been approved to be on the list of a network called Career Source Broward; in fact, students are now able to apply for a scholarship through this organization. 

Career Source Broward assists with the cost of tuition, books and supplies and guidance. According to their site, Career Source Broward explains that if you are a Broward County resident, you may be eligible to receive such scholarships for in-demand career training.
  For additional information on the Human Services Program, visit for direct information within the Social Behavioral Sciences and Human Services (SBSHS) programs and degrees.

Photo:  Dr. Robert Gallagher lectures students during his Introduction to Human Services course. Michelle Castano/The Observer                                          

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