As the state of America's children and families continues to degenerate, the human services system struggles to render the support it was designed to provide. Despite such efforts, American families have difficulty accessing services; they are forced to navigate an incomprehensible system where quantity is often deemed insufficient and quality is compromised. Simultaneously, expenditures on human services have soared to record levels, further spurring both concerns and efforts to reform and better integrate a sadly dysfunctional system.
In the first comprehensive synthesis of the history, theory, and practice of service integration, Sharon Lynn Kagan, with Peter R. Neville, explores why past efforts to reform the human service system have had only isolated triumphs and marginal impact in improving the quality of life for children and families. Tracing the history of human services in America from the colonial period to the present, the author analyzes the underlying assumptions, barriers, and strategies that have characterized the service integration movement. Drawing on history, empirical research, and intellectual theory, as well as on the personal experiences of practitioners and leaders, the author extracts principles and insights that offer new directions for future social service reform.