The mission is to provide a space for human services sector stakeholders and HL7 experts that focus on non-clinically oriented social risks and needs to define requirements, design, and validate HL7 Implementation Guides for interoperable human services data exchange.


Human services can encompass any interdisciplinary social service needed across the lifespan from birth to death, which include, but are not limited to: living needs, foster care coordination, case management, individual education plan (IEP) coordination, transportation issues, and food insecurity, among other social drivers of health. State agencies, regional entities, and local organizations often partner with federal agencies to address vulnerable populations that need services in the area of family law and child support, child welfare, education and early care, economic security, housing and homelessness, and hunger.[1] The primary focus of this work group encompasses the representation of human services interventions and observations.

Area of Focus: With specified interest, representation, leadership, and resources from the US Department of Health and Human Services Administration of Children and Families (ACF) and Administration of Community Living (ACL), the US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), and international constituencies, the Human and Social Services Work Group focuses on the development of use case requirements and HL7 based standards in the areas of: 

  • Child Welfare:
    • Child welfare is typically a continuum of services designed to ensure that children are safe and that families have the necessary support to care for their children successfully. Child welfare agencies, that typically operate at both state and local levels, support or coordinate services to prevent child abuse and neglect, receive and investigate reports of possible abuse and neglect, assess child and family needs, strengths and resources, and arrange for children to live with relatives or with foster families when safety cannot be ensured at home. Child welfare agencies and staff utilize case management as a means for achieving client wellness and autonomy through advocacy, communication, education, identification of service resources, and service facilitation.
  • Adult Protective Services:
    • Adult protective services provide care and assistance for adults who are unable to provide such services for themselves. These services are needed and provided in multiple jurisdictions internationally and domestically. For example, in the US Realm, ACL supports a variety of programs to help older Americans and individuals with disabilities receive supports and services so that they can live where they choose, with the people they choose, and with the ability to participate fully in their communities.[1] The program works with a wide variety of allied professionals to maximize client safety and independence.[2] 
  • Child Foster Care:
    • Child welfare agencies have the responsibility for placement, care, or supervision for children in foster care. Information and data related to a caseworker’s assessment, planning, and provision of services is collected to support the child’s safety and care.[3]
  • Child Support Enforcement:
    • Promoting parental responsibility and involvement is a vital aspect to ensuring needed support for children to thrive both domestically and internationally. In the US Ream, the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, under ACF, partners with federal, state, tribal, and local governments, and others to promote parental responsibility so that children receive reliable support from both of their parents as they grow to adulthood. The national child support program assures that assistance in obtaining support is available to children, through locating parents, establishing paternity, establishing, and modifying support obligations, and monitoring and enforcing those obligations.[4]
  • Education:
    • As many children under 18 attend school (K-12), teachers and other school staff are often the first to notice or become aware of issues related to child abuse and neglect, as well as being able to optimize the child’s ability to learn and progress through school. School staff work closely with child welfare agencies as they investigate issues, assess child and family needs. In addition, schools are responsible for developing an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to ensure that a child who has a disability receives specialized instruction and related services. This Work Group would also focus on use cases that support IEP coordination.
  • School Health:
    • School Health serve in a pivotal role that bridges health care, education and the human service needs instituted.[5]The Work Group also focuses on use cases to support data interoperability with school-based health centers and local human service organizations.  
  • Service Planning to address Social Determinants of Health:
    • The Human and Social Services Work Group leverages social determinants of health definitions developed by various work groups and accelerators within HL7. Future use cases of the Gravity Project that focus on exchange between local human services organizations will likely fall into this work group. In addition, the VA would like to explore use cases specific to the unique needs of Veteran’s access to social services and data interoperability. The Human and Social Services Work Group tales extra caution to not duplicate other work group’s work, utilize what has already been done, and coordinate regularly with other work groups to ensure ongoing alignment.

Formal Relationships with other work groups and Accelerators: The Human and Social Services Work Group will be intentional about identifying opportunities to cross collaborate. This work group may have work items that intersect and overlap with the following work groups: Patient Care, EHR, Public Health, Community Based Care and Privacy (CBCP).  The work group will collaborate with other work groups on sub-domains of common interest. The goal will be to ensure ongoing communication and collaboration. The Human and Social Services Work Group will purposely collaborate with the HL7 FHIR Accelerator, the Gravity Project, through sponsorship of upcoming Gravity use cases focused on local, state, Tribal, Territories, and federal based data capture and exchange.

[1] https://acl.gov/

[2] https://acl.gov/programs/elder-justice/supporting-adult-protective-services

[3] http://partnersforourchildren.org/resources/glossar

[4] https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/documents/ocse/factsheets_ocse.pdf

[5] https://www.nasn.org/advocacy/professional-practice-documents/position-statements/ps-role