Human services integration: possible roles for the Maryland State Department of Education

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


Human services integration attempts to improve the availability and effective delivery of services to clients who require the attentions of more than one service provider. Services integration is an issue of concern to many state governments, and has been attempted through a variety of mechanisms. Public education has typically been excluded from the human services integration movement. Although education is set apart from other human services by the comparatively large size of its state-supported budget and by its relatively autonomous administration, there are, nevertheless, significant commonalities in services provided by education agencies and other human service agencies. It is these service commonalities which warrant consideration of integration of services provided by education agencies with those of other human service agencies. The purpose of this study was two-fold: first, to develop a situational framework for analysis of the feasibility and appropriate design for human services integration; and second, to recommend a new and appropriate role for the Maryland State Department of Education, in concert with other Maryland human service agencies, directed toward the integration of State human services. Four research procedures were undertaken for accomplishing the study objectives.

A review of the literature consisted chiefly of study of the experiences of other states with human services integration projects. This part of the study resulted in the development of a set of indicators to suggest the likelihood that a particular attempt to bring about services integration would or would not succeed. Information on the various mechanisms which have been used in attempts to bring about human services integration was also provided, and led to the development of a scale of possible structural and procedural mechanisms. These two classification schemes became the foundation for the situational framework which was used to analyze State human service agencies in Maryland and their social, political, and economic environment.

Review of selected Maryland State documents provided the primary source of information on the organizational arrangements, missions, operational programs, and linkages of state human service agencies. A secondary source of information on the same topics was provided through the researcher's role as participant observor in Maryland State government.

Validation of the material gathered and assembled from State documents and from participant observation was pr6vdded through a set of interviews with five State agency administrators and planners. The second set of interviews with these officials elicited professional judgment on desirable and feasible types of integration of the services of the Maryland State Department of Education with those of other State human service agencies. Both sets of interviews provided information for revision of the framework constructed from the review of the literature and Maryland State documents.

Finally, conclusions of the study were formulated. Recommendations were provided for the development of services integration in Maryland and for the conduct of further study.