Human Services research benefits local agency
A Springfield agency is benefiting from the research work of a Human Services faculty member at the University of Illinois Springfield.
Assistant Professor Neil Headman developed expertise in family development, family resilience, family service engagement and has been working to help M.E.R.C.Y. Communities improve their model of service provision. He has been studying the effects of the new model on both staff and residents over the past year. The agency provides housing, employment assistance and other services to homeless women and their children.
“It makes what I’m doing here really feel meaningful if I can connect that to the community. That agency also helps to serve as a place for internships for our students,” said Headman.
Headman, who has both studied and worked directly with families in need, volunteered to help M.E.R.C.Y. Communities write a Service Model Handbook, and conducted a training session with staff members. He has surveyed clients and staff to see if the model is proving successful.
He says, based on initial review of the data, the model appears to be working, by changing the way clients and employees interact. Residents at the M.E.R.C.Y. home feel like they have a more positive relationship with staff, since the model has been in place.
Headman says he enjoys doing research in the community because it gives him a chance to take findings from literature and put them to the test.
“For one it keeps you connected to what’s actually going on around you and what the people really need, rather than just kind of an interesting research topic,” he said.
Headman plans to continue his work with M.E.R.C.Y. Communities in the future.